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Full text of "From dawn to dark in Italy. A tale of the reformation in the sixteenth cntury"

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THIS historical tale of the Italian Reformation has 
been prepared with great care from the best authorities on 
the subject. The writer has endeavoured to present a 
faithful .picture of a period the most eventful in the re- 
ligious history of Italy, when the little light that had 
always lingered among the Yaudois in the recesses of the 
Alps seemed rising and spreading on the horizon* toward 
a perfect day. Many a heart in the crowded cities of the 
priest-ridden land hailed it with gladness. Cloistered 
monks, "nuns in their narrow cells," Roman nobles, 
Florentine citizens, Venetian senators, not a few, opened 
their souls to its effulgence. It has been painful to write 
how that glorious light was quenched, gradually, but 
surely. One by one, Italy's contingent to the noble army 
of martyrs was dismissed heavenward, amid blood and 
fire which darkened the land. Ruthless and bloody per- 
secution was followed by a terrible retribution of spiritual 
death, continuing almost to the present hour. 

The names and histories of the men who fought and 



fell in this struggle for God's truth should not willingly be 

let die out of our memories and our grateful love. It has 
seemed to the writer that Christians know less about these 
Italian Reformers than about any others. Perhaps the 
present little work may help to supply a felt deficiency. 
The accuracy of all its historical and biographical state- 
ments, and the truthfulness of the local colouring intro- 
duced, may be relied on. It is hoped that the reader's 
heart may be stirred up to gratitude toward God for his 
mercy manifested to our own favoured land. 







































XXXIV. ROME IN 1558 362 



















GLORY of Italian noonday lay upon the 
little town of Locarno. Surrounding Alpine 
heights were yet snowy with winter's livery, 
and the near forests of pine showed grandly 
gloomy against the distant peaks of piercing 
whiteness; but Lago Maggiore rippled as blue 
and calm as in midsummer, reflecting a heaven 
without a cloud. 

The narrow streets of Locarno shut off the sun- 
shine well, except in the broad market-place, 
where the usual venders of country provisions 
sat and sold and chattered in the patois of the 

Some absorbing subject interests them to-day. 
Many glances are directed toward the huge dark 
monastery which overtops and shadows the other 
buildings, as the Church in that age towered above 


and eclipsed all things secular. A side of the 
square is filled with the gray massive front and 
ponderous portals of a convent. Occasionally a 
dingy lay brother enters or emerges from it, with 
fifty pair of eager black eyes following his move- 
ments, and fifty glib tonguss gossipping about him 
in whispers. 

" And how say you ?" observed a peasant girl, 
carrying a fruit-basket, to an aged crone who sold 
relics and images at a stall in one corner; "are the 
heretic ladies before his Eminence even now?" 

" Even now," echoed Dame Ursula, crossing her- 
self quickly: "the holy saints defend us from 
heresy and witchcraft, and all evil! I saw them 
entering two hours agone. His Eminence conde- 
scends to argue with them, hoping to draw them 
again into the true faith. If they are obstinate, 
why, the Church has power to punish yet, in spite 
of Luther and all his fiends." The old woman 
pursed her withered lips firmly together, as she re- 
placed on its proper end a leaden Madonna which 
had rattled down against a bead rosary, and 
propped it up by a crucifix securely. 

"But, Mother Ursula, they would not burn 
women, would they?" And the dark eyes of the 
maiden opened widely with a sort of dread. 


" No, foolish child, not here though I've heard 
of it in other places; but the Church has ways of 
punishing besides that, believe me." The crone 
put up her brown bony finger, and nodded myste- 
riously, as if she knew a great deal, were she only 
willing to tell. "You have heard of the Holy 
Office, child?" 

Twelve years before, in 1543, Pope Paul the 
Third had issued his bull founding in Rome the 
congregation " Saneti Officii" constituting six cardi- 
nals inquisitors-general, and endowing them with 
terrific power for the extirpation of Lutheran 
opinions. Thenceforward the dawn of divine 
truth in Italy began to be overcast with the dark- 
ness of premature eclipse. 

Caterina, the peasant girl, had never heard the 
tremendous name which was to prove a watchword 
of terror to the extremest verge of her native soil. 
Old Mother Ursula knew little more than the 
name; but drawing on her vivid Southern im- 
agination for her facts, she quickly sketched a few 
items of horror which blanched her listener's 
cheeks and lips. 

"The poor ladies! I hope his Eminence will 
convince them of their errors/' sighed the girl. 
"It must be a terrible calamity to be a heretic! 


Now, what is it that they don't believe, Mother 

"Everything," answered the other, oracularly. 
"They don't believe the very saints are in heaven! 
Nay, they blaspheme the adorable sacrifice of the 
mass, affirming that any common piece of bread is 
as good as the .blessed eucharist! Sancta Cecilia 
pardon me for saying the words!" And she 
crossed herself vehemently many times, and pat- 
tered a few prayers on her bead amulet. 

"These very ears," she continued, "heard the 
physician's wife declare that extreme unction was 
of no avail to a soul that had lived in sin. When 
I confessed it to Father Pietro, he said it was rank 
heresy and an invention of the Lutherans. And 
as for purgatory, they don't believe in it at all." 

Here the relic-seller grasped her companion's 
wrist as she glanced at two men who passed by 
the stall. 

"There he goes, the Signer di Montalto, her 
husband; the best leech in Locarno, and kindest 
to the poor more pity that he should be tainted 
with a heretic wife. And that tall youth beside 
him is a young doctor fresh from Padua Signor 
Francesco, they call him; a most gentle and 
learned student, who cured my cough with a 


draught of simples the other day. He hath a cer- 
tain look of my son Giovanni, thinkest thou, 
Caterina? The same firm, burnt cheek, and great 
eyes, as black and bright as midnight round the 
.stars. But I forget; thou knowest not Giovan, 
who has gone to the wars : all the saints preserve 
him !" 

The two gentlemen thus noticed passed by the 
convent, and entered a labyrinth of wretched 
streets beyond, bound on some professional visit, 
much to Dame Ursula's disappointment, and that 
of other gazers in the market-place, who hoped 
that the plot was thickening by their arrival. Let 
us, readers in the nineteenth century, do what they 
longed for in vain enter the monastery and oversee 
the conference between his Eminence the papal 
nuncio Riverda, bishop of Terracina, and these 
two Lutheran ladies of Locarno. 

He had been more than two hours convincing 
them, these weak women, with the triple power of 
his own episcopal theology, and that of two Do- 
minican divines besides ; and they were not yet 
convinced, nor even frightened. Brucioli's Italian 
Bible was their armoury of arguments, which all 
the authority of popes and fathers could not foil. 
His Eminence the nuncio was getting angry with 


some cause. For is it not provoking when the 
battering-ram that could crush in a fortification 
strikes harmless against a soft cushion ? 

" Truly, the Church was wise when she forbade 
the reading of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue 
to the common people," he said, with bitterness. 
" It hath ever been a fertile source of the most 
pernicious errors, for the unlearned and the igno- 
rant will wrest them to their own destruction." 

" My lord, we are ready to be taught," replied 
Lucia di Orello, gently ; " we desire to be in- 
structed by those wiser than ourselves. If your 
Eminence can prove to us from God's word that we 
are wrong " 

" But we must have such proof, and none other 
will suffice," interposed the more impetuous Bar- 
bara di Montalto. St We submit to no human 
authority in matters of faith : not even to that of 
his Holiness, or of a general council." 

The priests looked at one another. " Thou art 
a bold woman," said the nuncio, as he noted some- 
thing in tablets before him, " thus to declare thy- 
self superior to the voice of the Church in all 

" But the voice of the Church hath uttered 
error," answered the lady, firmly; "and God hath 


enabled us to discern that error through the light 
of his Spirit on his Scripture : therefore we will 
endure all things, rather than yield an iota of the 

The nuncio had grown suddenly cool: except 
for an evil light lurking in his deep-set eye, like 
lurid flame in a cavern, one might have thought 
he asked rather an indifferent question in his next 
words : 

" And what, signora, call you truth which the 
holy Roman Church calls not truth ?" 

A slight gesture of his hand, imperceptible ex- 
cept to the person for whom it was meant, caused 
the Dominican beside him to record the answer in 
his tablets unperceived by the speaker, whose en- 
thusiasm kindled a bright glow in her eye and 
cheek as she stood before him : 

" All that God has written in his holy Scripture 
is truth. All that the popes have published in 
their decretals, adding to Scripture, is error. The 
whole system of the papacy is one vast error. 
Show me anything in its doctrines or practices that 
is not alloyed with falsehood ?" 

As she paused for a moment, the nuncio 
shrugged his shoulders slightly and his lips con- 
tracted back over his white teeth in a sort of smile. 


" The doctrine of the adorable eucharist ?" he said, 

" Thou knowest, my lord, that there most of all, 
thy Church has failed in keeping the truth," was 
the undaunted reply. " Thou knowest that Peter 
and John never understood the sacred bread and 
wine to contain the very body and soul of Christ, 
which then sat with them at the table. But thy 
Church has made merchandise of the Holy Supper, 
turning it into an idolatrous mass, and causing men 
to worship the work of their own hands." 

" Barbara," said the soft voice of her friend 
Lucia, as she pulled the skirt of the speaker's robe, 
" you are over bold : you forget " 

" I do not forget. I know that they have my 
life in their hands that they can send me to the 
stake if they will. But I must speak the truth ; 
and I say that the Romish mass is idolatrous, and 
an insult to the majesty of Heaven as well as to the 
reason of men !" 

"Basta! it is enough," exclaimed the nuncio, 
rising with that evil smile on his lips still. "I 
thank you, ladies, for your courtesy and your plain 
words. My desire was to convince you of your 
heresy, and bring you back to the one fold under 
the one shepherd ; and as I have failed, and these 


learned doctors have failed, our conference had best 
come to a close/ 

He waved his hand, on which glittered the costly 
ring of his episcopate. The Lutheran ladies made 
their obeisance and withdrew. 

" Oh, Barbara !" said the gentle Lucia, drawing 
a free breath when they reached the open air of the 
streets by a secluded postern, " how I trembled for 
you ! The eyes of that Dominican were like dag- 
gers. You are too brave, my friend. You have a 

" Not braver than your own, my Lucia, though 
you have the grace of gentleness/ 7 said the Signora 
di Montalto, looking at her affectionately. "I 
know that you would stand as firmly as I, but per- 
haps with less rash demonstration of strength. Ah 
here comes Francesco." 

" Well, signora, are you convinced ?" the young 
physician asked with a smile. And it was ap- 
parent from the conversation which followed that 
others in the Montalto household besides its mis- 
tress were tainted with the leaven of heresy. 

The house which they approached was more like 
a fortress than a private dwelling. Immensely 
thick walls, slit with loopholes and battlemented 
at top the foundation on a rock circled on three 


sides by the waters of the Lago Maggiore one 
could easily believe that its origin was during the 
wars between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, when 
every man's home required the strength of a 

Night came down over the beautiful lake, ar- 
rayed in purple robes pierced with a thousand 
stars. In a turret of the fortified house a lamp 
burned hour after hour, gleaming redly out upon 
the darkness. It shone on the coarse yellowish 
pages of a large volume under the eyes of Barbara 
di Montalto a copy of Brucioli's translation of 
the Bible. When her spirit was overwhelmed 
within her, when the sure reaction came after her 
excitement before the nuncio, she sought for cordial 
here. And in a still small voice these words 
breathed into her soul : " When thou passest 
through the waters, I will be with thee; when 
thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be 
burned : for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One 
of Israel, thy Saviour." And her dauntless eyes 
filled with happy tears in the realization of the 
presence and help of that precious Saviour. 

A sound as of some person speaking in the next 
room, which opened from the turret by a curtained 
archway, attracted her attention. Shading the 


lamp with her hand, she entered and stood by the 
couch on which her husband lay in restless sleep. 
His face startled her. The large veins were swol- 
len on his forehead, the brows knit heavily, the 
lips drawn back from the clenched teeth. He flung 
out his arm violently. 

" Off off!" he exclaimed fiercely, grasping the 
side of the couch, as if engaged in a hand-to- 
hand struggle. " Villains, traitors ! ye shall not 

She could look on the agony in his face no 
longer. ' She put her hand on his shoulder and 
called him by name. Di Montalto's eyes opened 
widely and glared about him with the indistinct 
vision of one suddenly awaked, and unable for the 
moment to determine where he was. 

" It was only a dream, mio caro," said his wife, 
gently ; " only a dream." And she pushed back 
the matted hair which had fallen over his damp 

He drew a long deep breath of relief. " It was 
horrible as a reality," he said. " They were drag- 
ging me to the dungeons of the Holy Office, Bar- 
bara. I tell you I have seen nothing more plainly 
in my waking hours than the dark, reeking walls 
of that torture- chamber just now. I clung to 


them ; I fought desperately. God be thanked, it 
was but a dream !" 

His wife's face had paled somewhat, and a slight 
shiver ran through her frame. The dream was no 
impossibility for her. 



I MONTALTO'S sleep was over for that 
night. Presently he left his chamber and 
proceeded down a narrow winding stairs, con- 
tained in the thickness of the wall, to the lower 
stories of the fortified house. As he descended the 
steep, mouldering steps, night air from the loop- 
holes blew across his lamp at intervals, and the 
plashing of waters became a nearer sound through 
the great silence without, till he reached a dark 
embrasure, wherein was sunk a massive iron- barred 

It had not been opened for a long time. Rust 
lay thick on the bolts, almost welding them and 
their holdfasts into a solid mass. Huge knobs of 
iron studded the ponderous oaken panels between 
the interstices of a grating of the same metal. A 
lock of ancient and peculiarly strong construction 
secured the door into a socket of stone. 

"I must call Francesco," said the physician, 
shaking his head at all this strength, and at a 



mental measurement of the immense key in his 
hand with the force of his unaided wrist. And so 
passing from the winding stair by a narrow side- 
door which he unlocked, he roused his assistant 
and told him what he wanted. 

" I can scarce account for the impulse," he said, 
" but I am urged by some irresistible feeling to 
have this door opened and the boat in readiness 
without. You smile; you think the dream has 
not yet ceased beating in my brain ; nor perchance 
has it, for I tell you, Francesco, the vision was 
marvellously distinct. Methinks it were a warn- 
ing from heaven. I see not thy face now more 
clearly before me, boy, than I saw that ruffianly 
soldier's a while gone. And yet my Lutheran 
opinions have always been moderately held." 

The student's countenance had suddenly become 
grave, and he hurried on his clothes. " I trust it 
bodes no evil to the signora your wife," said he. 
" She is so fearless ; she may have spoken unad- 
visedly before his Eminence." 

" Tut ! the Church contends not with women," 
rejoined the worthy physician. " I will have that 
door opened in any case. I hope the boat has not 
quite decayed in its niche ; but we shall see." 

When at last, with the help of two servants, the 


lock was forced back, the huge bolts drawn from 
their sockets, and the door, after infinite labour, 
pushed open in its groove widely enough to admit 
the passage of a man, the dark, deep water ap- 
peared just below the threshold without, fluctuating 
with a sobbing sound. Afar rose the wild, white 
Alps, ghostly in the starlight, and seen through a 
black tunnel of rock, into which opened the secret 

" Ecco !" said the physician, peering through 
the darkness with his lamp. " There's the boat 
on its shelf. Pull the chain, Piero ;" and pres- 
ently it was drawn into its native element with a 
slight splash. A slender cockle-shell of a bark, it 
could hold no more than three persons. From 
long disuse the seams began to leak immediately. 

Francesco and his patron set about caulking 
them with any rude means to be had at a minute's 
warning. Piero and the other serving-man had 
been sent to their beds again ; and when the job 
was nearly finished, the physician ascended to the 
roof of his mansion to look out for the danger of 
which his dream had warned. 

All tranquil under the clear air and the starlight 
the little huddled Locarno lay on the edge of the 
great placid lake and slept. No soul seemed stir- 


ring in all the scene save himself. And he, a 
timid man, and one wise in his generation as 
worldly men count wisdom, began to think it had 
been as well he had never meddled with these new 
Lutheran opinions, and thus disquieted his life. 

The sound of oars, though very gently moved, 
broke up his reverie unpleasantly. He crouched 
instantly behind a projecting battlement, and 
scanned the polished surface of the lake: but all 
was motionless. Leaning cautiously over, keeping 
his head in the shadow, he was relieved by seeing 
his own skiff creeping along from the cove by the 
edge of the rocks. The oarsman he guessed to be 
Francesco, who presently shot out his bark one or 
two boat's lengths on the luminous water, as if to 
obtain a view of something high in the building. 
" But," thought the husband, " he is a foolish boy 
thus to betray the secret of the door to any one 
who may be watching. Those Holy Office people 
come on one like serpents. Pah !" and he shud- 
dered again at the remembrance of his dream. In 
fact, Di Montalto was thoroughly frightened, and 
a little pressure would have made him recant on 
the spot all his Protestant sentiments. 

I say " sentiments," not "opinions," or "con- 
victions ;" for the latter cannot be recanted when 


once they have entered and become incorporate 
with a man's being. But the first physician in 
Locarno was one of the stony-ground hearers who, 
in time of persecution, fall away and are offended. 

He was tested at dawn next morning. A party 
of soldiers burst into the room where his wife 
was dressing, and exhibited a warrant from the 
Locarnese deputies for her arrest. Her husband 
involuntarily drew near and shielded her with his 

" For blasphemies against the adorable sacrifice 
of the mass !" exclaimed the leader, roughly. 
" For profaning the blessed sacrament to the very 
ears of his Eminence the nuncio ! Come, doctor, 
make way ; you should have kept your wife in 
better order. But you'll smart for it, or my name's 
not Andrea d'Agnolo. Well, signora, are you 

Not a nerve of the brave woman had trembled ; 
now that the worse was actually come her heart 
seemed raised above fear. 

" Go to Bianca," she said to her husband. " The 
poor child will be terrified. As for these gentle- 
men, I must ask leave to finish dressing in this 
turret ;" and she moved toward the door. 

"Nay, signora, but you shall have leisure to 


dress even here/ 7 quoth Andrea. "His Eminence 
likes a woman to look well. Out, comrades ! We 
shall leave sentinels at the doors." 

No sooner was the last step withdrawn than she 
raised the hangings, touched a concealed spring, 
and the door of the winding stairs flew open and 
closed behind her. Her heart beat violently, her 
eyes were dizzy, as she rapidly descended the 
steps and entered the waiting boat, wherein sat 
Francesco and Piero. In a moment they had shot 
out of the dark nook, and the disappointed shouts 
of their enemies were dwindling in the distance. 



'HE trooper, Andrea, had employed himself 
meanwhile in searching the turret-chamber 
for Lutheran books; and making discovery 
of a very portly volume in a niche behind the 
hangings, he congratulated himself on the stroke 
of politic politeness by which he had prevented 
the Signora di Montalto from having opportunity 
to conceal anything. 

" Ho ! Filippo," to the sentry, who stood mute 
beside the door while his chief rummaged, " but 
here's heresy enough to taint all Locarno. She 
thought to make away with this under pretence of 
dressing, forsooth ! Try to hoodwink an old 
campaigner, indeed ! I was not at the Bourbon's 
sack of Rome for nothing. Canst thou read, 

"I thank San Pietro I cannot," replied the 
sentry, on whose undiscerning ear had just smitten 
the click of the secret door's closing. "It seems 



to me the high road to being an heretic : those 
printed hooks do all the mischief." 

"It's riot a missal," said the other, dubiously 
turning over the coarse leaves. " I'll bring it before 
his Eminence. No more than thyself can I tell a 
letter, Filippo. My broadsword's my book ;" and 
having opened a chest of wearing apparel, he 
shook out its contents on the point of said sword. 

" Hist !" exclaimed Filippo, presently, raising 
his hand. She's very quiet within ;" and he 
jerked his thumb over his shoulder. 

Andrea strode across and burst the frail fasten- 
ings of the door. No one in the room ; but from 
the window he caught sight of the boat flying over 
the gleaming water, impelled by the strength of 
two stout oarsmen, and with the signora seated in 
the stern. 

" Help, ho ! al-armi !" He stamped his mailed 
foot, and shouted with rage and mortification, pro- 
fanely swearing by all the saints in the calendar 
and by divers of the heathen gods. His soldiers 
quickly gathered round him only to gaze with help- 
lessness on their escaping prisoner. But how could 
she have escaped ? Filippo prudently said nothing 
of the click of a fastening door which he had 
heard, and the remembrance of which had made 


his ears sensitive to the subsequent silence. The 
window was merely a narrow diamonded casement 
of thick greenish glass set in lead, and moving a 
few inches on a hinge ; the lake lay full forty feet 
below, welling against the perpendicular rock. 

" I'll try a shot with my arquebuss, commander," 
said Filippo, in an inquiring tone, as he raised his 
piece and stolidly covered the fugitives. Andrea's 
hoarse laugh sounded savage, but with a gesture he 
stayed the brawny hand which was cocking the 
clumsy crooked gun. 

" Truly they \vould leap if thy two-ounce ball 
struck among them; but it's not in the warrant, 
amico mio. Fools ! idiots !" and the Italian burst 
into sudden fury, " why do none of you get a boat 
and pursue ?" 

It was more easily said than done. Before they 
could be afloat in the boat of a terrified fisherman, 
the skin bearing their prey had shot round a 
craggy point, and was lost to sight and to pursuit. 

The story was a poor one to bring to his expect- 
ing Eminence, the bishop of Terracina ; and that 
they might not return quite empty-handed, Andrea 
and his troopers haled before him the physician, 
Di Montalto and his daughter, as accomplices aid- 
ing and abetting the escape of a heretic. With 


bound hands they were marched through the prin- 
cipal streets and the market-place of Locarno to 
the court-room where the ecclesiastics and magis- 
trates were assembled. Old Dame Ursula, behind 
her relic-stall, crossed herself many times as they 
passed, muttering, t{ May the holy saints defend us 
from heresy and all the fiends !" 

" But surely, mother, that sweet young face be- 
longs to no heretic !" exclaimed a peasant youth 
who stood by. " I could believe no evil of the 
beautiful signorina." 

" My little one/ 7 answered the crone, "you know 
not. I've been told the w*orst heresy oft takes the 
fairest form. She may be like the ripe fruit which 
is rotten at the core. His Eminence will know." 
And tongues went chattering round the piazza like 
a tribe of jays, having all the same burden, the 
escape of the signora.and the arrest of her husband 
and daughter, whereof many versions revolved, 
each one enlarging the marvel. 

Whatever doubts and fears the physician had 
experienced on the preceding night were as nothing 
to his sensations now in the noonday. His heart 
never very buoyant, sank and sank as a millstone 
in the Maggiore, deeper and deeper in depression, 
whereof the outward index was his chin clothed in 


grizzled beard, which dropped lower and lower till 
it rested on his very bosom. And thus he stood 
before the deputies and the nuncio, no protector, in 
sooth for the slender maiden beside him; verily 
the timid nature of the girl seemed to have passed 
into the strong man's form, bending him like a 
reed, while Bianca's calm face and upright de- 
meanour showed that her mother's spirit was here- 
ditary. Not without effort was she thus calm 
externally ; the tension of highly-strung nerves 
was visible in the brightly dilated eye, and her 
heart beat with thick pulsation against her crimson 
boddice. Yet she could not suppress a slight smile 
at D'Agnolo's relation of how his prisoner had 
balked him and gone clean out of his hands. 

It was a slur on the trooper's abilities, and he 
knew it, that a woman should have thus outwitted 
him. He waxed redder and pulled his moustache 
more fiercely as he told the story. " But in any 
case, your Eminence, though the jade has escaped 
this time, I've brought a proof of rank heresy 
against the whole household of this worthy gentle- 
man ; for I take it where a printed book so bulky 
as this is found, any fool can smell Lutheranism." 

His Eminence examined the book, passed it to 
his chaplain, and said nothing then about it. His 


mood was sternly grim, for the lady's escape and 
the physician's ill-concealed nervousness suggested 
to him a satiating object. Di Montalto was piti- 
lessly examined and threatened ; all sorts of vague 
terrors of confiscation, torture, death, were hung 
out in his view, till the craven heart thought of 
nothing but crouching. 

" Those Lutheran opinions were my wife's, most 
illustrious Eminence, and not mine. I never pro- 
fessed them to the extremity that it pleased her to 
do. Ask any citizen in Locarno, ask any of the 
worshipful deputies themselves ;" and he spread out 
his hands appealingly toward the seats which they 
occupied. " Ask the illustrious prefect Keuchlin, 
who so worthily presides over this city, was I not 
by his side at the last festa in the chapel of Ma- 
donna del Sasso ? Have I ever failed in payment 
of the Church's dues ?" 

And in fact he was correct. Di Montalto had 
been noted as a trimmer one who would fain keep 
well with both parties, the Reformed and the 
Catholic. But when, still further to defend him- 
self, he acknowledged that his absent wife had a 
rash tongue and a headstrong spirit, which it 
should have been his duty to keep under and bring 
into subjection, that he lamented the vehemence of 


her opinions, and even deemed her worthy of cor- 
rection therefor, the large bright eyes of his 
daughter turned upon him slowly with surprise, 
and perchance a lurking scorn in their expression. 

" The signorina wishes to speak. My daughter, 
what wouldst thou say ?" interposed one of the 
Dominicans sitting below the nuncio. "Speak 
without fear, mia figlia," he added, insinuatingly. 
But her father's warning look came in time. She 
only replied by an obeisance to the monk's invita- 
tion. And when presently examined herself, she 
kept clear of the theological traps laid for her with 
a discretion surprising in one so young. 

Di Montalto left the court a beggar. Complete 
confiscation of his property was the sentence passed 
by the seven deputies and his fellow-townsmen 
under pressure of the episcopal presence. And 
whereas Bianca walked forth as stately as ever, her 
clear brown cheek perhaps a trifle paler, her father 
came out as if ten years had suddenly been added 
on his shoulders and to the lines on his brow. No 
man of all his wide acquaintance was brave enough 
to bear him company, and he had been a coward 
and a recreant for no gain. Dark thoughts enough 
to bring with him to the old fortified house of his 
fathers by the Lago Maggiore ! 


Guards were there in possession. Bianca was to 
be permitted to take her clothes ; and he who but 
yesterday was the first physician in Locarno might 
lodge in an attic of his own mansion until the great 
exodus of the Protestants, a week hence, on the 
3d of March, 1555. 

To understand which vast eviction, we must go 
back a few weeks to one memorable afternoon when 
a procession filed through the streets of Locarno 
a procession not fragrant with incense, nor illumi- 
nated with wax tapers, nor gorgeously apparelled 
in ecclesiastic robes ; nor a procession echoing with 
soft-chanted music, but more acceptable in the 
sight of the Highest than all these. Two hundred 
resolute and silent men, with wives and little chil- 
dren by the hand, walking to the council-chamber 
to confront the overwhelming power of the Swiss 
Diet, and confess their faith in Christ as the only 
Saviour, though bonds and afflictions might abide 
them. Was not the spectacle one which the hosts 
of heaven might deem sublime, while the superb- 
est pageants of Charles the Fifth, emperor, were 
not worth the passing glance of an angel's eye? 

They advanced the dauntless, unarmed two 
hundred with their wives and little ones, and ap- 
peared in the council hall, greeted by the laughter 


and jeers of the deputies from the seven cantons, 
who found a ludicrous absurdity in the protest of 
this trifling minority against the religion which 
the large majority of Locarnese had professed in 
the morning. The chief among the Protestants 
stood forth and declared, in the name of his breth- 
ren, their common faith. 

The articles of this were few and grand, chiefly 
comprised in the one, that they believed the gospel 
prefigured in the Old Testament and revealed 
more clearly by Christ and his apostles. They re- 
jected all human tradition they prayed for divine 
illumination upon Holy Scripture. They abhorred 
all false doctrine and all licentious practice. They 
were prepared to suffer anything rather than be 
the cause of civil war ; yet they implored the lords 
of the cantons to have pity on the helpless women 
and children, and not drive them forth to exile and 
penury, especially at the present inclement season. 

And the deputies replied, coldly and haughtily, 
" We come not here to listen to your faith. Our 
religion may not be disputed. Wherefore say, are 
you ready to quit your faith or are you not ?" 

Clear and bold from the lips of the spokesman 
came the answer : " We will live in it, we will die 
in it !" And without a moment's hesitation all the 



two hundred caught up the refrain, " We will live 
in it, we will die in it." A divine fervour seemed 
to seize upon them : " Ours is the only saving 
faith," they cried, " we will never renounce it I" 

The names of those gallant heretics were taken 
down by the clerk of the council. Clasping hands 
together, congratulating each other on being called 
to suffer for Christ's sake, they came forward joy- 
fully to be entered in the list of exiles. For a de- 
cree had been issued by the Diet that the inhabit- 
ants of Locarno who professed any other than the 
" Catholic" religion should leave their native coun- 
try for ever ; and in the teeth of this edict had the 
brave two hundred come forward, knowing and 
having weighed their doom. 

Di Montalto had admired their courage afar off, 
and now he was forced to share the confessor's suf- 
fering without the reward of the confessor's palm 
of victory. He had gained nothing but contempt 
for his shuffling and evasions. He had saved not 
a single ducat of his life's earnings, nor a hand's 
breadth of the popular esteem on which his fair 
fortune was built. The bleak world was before 
him, to be commenced again in his declining yenrs. 

" I shall go to Florence, girl," he would say to 
Bianca. " I cannot expatriate myself among those 


terrible Swiss mountains from my sunny Italy. 
They talk of refuge at Zurich. Whom know I 
there? I shall go to Florence or to Ferrara. 
Your mother once knew the Duchess Renee. From 
her she imbibed much of her unfortunate Luther- 
anism. Yes, Ferrara would be best," added the phy- 
sician, stroking his neglected beard meditatively. 

" My father, it is God's truth ; don't call it un- 
fortunate/' said Bianca, raising her face from her 
work. " It must prevail at the last." 

" I hope so, I hope so," replied her father, pee- 
vishly ; " but I know that at present it has caused 
me the loss of everything. Young people are 
thoughtless and don't understand losses." 

"Father, rememberest thou what the Lord 
said?" and Bianca laid one hand on his shoulder, 
raising the other solemnly as she pronounced in 
the soft tones of her native tongue, " lo vi dico in 
verity Che non v' alcuno ch'abbia lasciata caso, o 
fratelli, . . . o possession!, per amor di me, e 
dell' evangelo, ch'ora, in questo tempo, non ne 
riceva, cento cotanti, case, e fratelli, . . . e pos- 
sessioni, con persecuzioni : e, nel secolo a venire, la 
vita eterna !" 

A passage which the English reader will find in 
Mark x. 29, 30. 


" Child, child, you are too enthusiastic. And I 
wish you would conceal that book ; the sight of it 
may get us into further trouble ; though how much 
deeper we could be " and he shrugged his shoul- 
ders dismally. 

" The book is hidden, father, and I spoke those 
words of the Gospel from memory. But, father," 
and she trembled a little, " they say that Nicholas 
was put to the torture yesterday. Thank God that 
my mother has escaped !" 

"Yes, girl, put to the rack last eventide, and 
sentenced to death this morning. What horrible 
times ! I wish we were well over the Alps, or 
somewhere that a man's head were safe." And the 
physician rose to walk up and down the narrow 
stone floor uneasily, ruminating over his losses and 
his prospects, with the anxiety of a soul unstayed 
by Heaven's strengthening faith. 



ARLY morning broke upon the Alpine coun- 
try at the head of Lago Maggiore. Mists yet 
lay in the mountain gorges, islanding peak 
from peak, suggesting an infiniteness of expansion 
and of distance. Gradually they floated out and 
away, to be glorified into sunlit clouds in the upper 
air. Every shade of indigo and purple lay on the 
nearer hills and hollows, except where a struggling 
sunbeam touched them with spring's emerald ; and 
afar, a chaos of snow-covered summits on the hori- 
zon, now revealed, now hidden in patches by the 
coquetry of clouds. 

Here, on the sloping side of a glen which widens 
to the lake's edge, stands a peasant's holding a 
rude, strong house of brown stone, set in a scant 
garden where the shallow soil has been cultivated 
to the utmost. Not that much grows in it at this 
season, when thaw has only just unchained the 
ground. The vine alcoves are bare skeleton scaf- 
foldings, and pale buds are bursting on the fruit 



trees. Narrow paths, scarce wide enough for the 
worker's feet, divide the strips of vegetable beds, 
and so steep are they that a stone set rolling adown 
them might leap sheer to the depth of the glen and 
be buried in its rushing rivulet. 

On the ground-floor, lit by holes for windows, 
this brown house has a kitchen and a shed for two 
cows. We cannot say much for the cleanliness of 
either place. Our acquaintance Caterina sits com- 
posedly milking, and singing a bit of a Swiss ditty, 
amid sights and smells which would horrify an 
English dairy-maid. Perhaps she is thinking of 
Luigi, a stalwart peasant who lives a mile further 
up the glen, and who happens to be her betrothed, 
or promesso sposo, for she is deaf to many calls 
from the kitchen till the voice comes forth : "Dove 
sei? where art thou, little one? I've been calling 
thee these ten minutes past, and thou'rt dumb as 
the roof-tree. Listen. Thy father saith the snow 
lias melted beyond the spring near the holy cross ; 
thou mayest take the cows up there this morning 
for the new pasture." 

It was a very withered and wrinkled face that 
spoke, but Caterina's mother was not within thirty 
years of what would be supposed her age. The 
hardships of peasant life, of exposure to the 


weather and much labour in the open field had 
serrated forehead and cheek with deep lines. 

" Thy father goes into Locarno to the execution/' 
here she crossed herself, " and thou'rt to go with 
him ; wherefore hasten, child, hasten." And she 
went back to her work, the preparation of the 
morning meal. 

Caterina felt a momentary shudder, and mut- 
terred a prayer for the doomed man who was to 
suffer ; but she had all an Italian's love for a spec- 
tacle, of whatspever species, and all an Italian's 
confidence that the Church can do no wrong. 

" If he had not meddled with heresy all the 
saints defend us ! he had not been put in prison 
or condemned. I wish Luigi had not the way of 
talking that he has. He doesn't respect the monks 
one bit, and calls the preaching friars a pack of 
lazy beggars. He'll get himself into trouble 
with that free tongue of his our Lady preserve 
him ! He says only old women mind all those 
stories about the Madonna del Sasso and her won- 
derful cures. He doesn't care a farthing about 
relics, and called my bone of St. Christopher, 
which Mother Ursula says will save me from ever 
being drowned, a bit of dried stick. I'm sure I 
hope that isn't heresy, for if it is " 


Now what the temple of Diana was to the Ephe- 
sians in the time of Demetrius the silversmith, the 
chapel of the Madonna del Sasso was to the Lo- 
carnese in the sixteenth century. " The image 
which fell down from Jupiter" had its counterpart 
in the waxen statue, gorgeously dressed, which 
received the homage of all good Catholics, and 
about which were encrusted a score of legends. 
And " the silver shrines" had their successors in a 
host of votive offerings of various values. 

During her soliloquy, Caterina \Yas driving her 
cows along the narrow winding path which climbed 
the heights, between masses of gray, lichened rock. 
The clear, cool morning air stood about her, which 
exhilarates young blood like wine ; it helped her 
to shake off that fear about Luigi. 

After some distance, and many turnings, the 
path suddenly veered round a jutting spur of crag, 
which cut off all view downward, and beyond was 
a pleasant reach of green, sloping gently toward 
the barren uplands on high. Midway in the little 
glen stood a great rusty-looking cross, formed by 
two pieces of wood, once painted a dull red, but 
now blackened by exposure ; and near the mouth 
of the glen was the spring, gushing from a crevice 
in the rocks. 


Cater ina started when she turned that way, for a 
lady was stooping over the well and drinking 
from her curved hand ; and the sight of anybody 
in these solitudes was unexpected. The lady, be- 
coming aware of her presence through the tread of 
the cattle, stood quietly and looked at her. 

" Buon giorno, signora," quoth Caterina, rather 
tremblingly, yet deeming it best to be civil, even 
if the figure should prove an apparition. She was 
relieved when her salutation was returned in a 
sufficiently earthly voice ; yet she did not like the 
consciousness that those strange eyes were watching 
her till she came to the cross, and, according to her 
custom, kneeled down before it. 

A hurried prayer for Luigi, for herself, for the 
man doomed to death in Locarno that day; a 
glance upward at the rude spear, the sponge, the 
nails, fastened as remembrances upon the cross- 
beam ; and she turned to descend the ravine home- 
ward. But the stranger had come quickly from 
the spring, and met her : 

" My child, to whom did you pray?" 

The sweet voice softened the abrupt question. 
Caterina dropped an obeisance as she answered, 

" To our Blessed Lady, signora." 

" Why, was it she who died on the cross for you ? 


Was it our Lady who felt the spear and the 

" No, surely/' replied the peasant girl ; " it was 
her blessed Son ;" and Caterina knelt again for an 
instant before the cross. 

" Then, my child, why not pray to him ? He 
loves you, or he would not have died in torments 
that you might be saved. He is not pleased when 
we doubt his love, and think that we must ask any- 
body to ask him to be good to us. May he bless 
you, my child I" and the stranger passed on with 
rapid step toward the upper end of the valley. 

Caterina was yet thinking of this rencontre, 
when she spied a man's figure climbing the rocks 
to the left beneath her. Before she distinctly be- 
held him she felt that he was Luigi. But for the 
first time that she could remember he did not seem 
equally pleased to see her : his brow contracted 

""What! up the mountain so early? Wherefore, 
Caterina? I thought your cows pastured lower 

She explained, and told him of the strange lady. 
" Luigi, she said what I remember you saying to 
me once that the Madonna never suffered or 
died for us." 


" Well, isn't it true ? But look here, don't say 
a word to any one of this lady ; I know about her, 
and you might get me into trouble." 

That hint was stronger than an iron seal on 
Caterina's lips, and so Signor Luigi was aware. 

" See the flowers I've been gathering for you 
through the gorges as I came along ;" he had them 
imprisoned in the cavity of his round hat, a mass 
of blue cyclamen, and purple gentianella, and snow- 
drops, and violets : " wear a bouquet of them for 
my sake, little one ;" and so they parted. 

" He had a wallet/' thought Caterina, " and I 
feared to ask him whither he was going. Alas ! I 
dread lest he get into trouble through these heretics. 
He is so brave that he fears nothing himself. I 
must say more prayers for him my poor Luigi !" 

Thus seeking the true refuge for her care, pro- 
vided the prayer were but right, Caterina, from 
this day forward, never could kneel at a Madonna's 
shrine without misgivings. Luigi's want of faith 
had much to do with this; but by and by the 
feeling was her own. The era of her blind 
credulity was over. 

Now, however, she must go into the town with 
her father, and behold the great sight, for this is a 
holiday in Lorcarno. 



HE old relic- vender sits behind her stall, as 
usual, this afternoon of the high holiday in 
Locarno. On her knees is the scaldino, or 
red earthen pipkin containing a little glowing char- 
coal, over which she warms her skinny hands. 
For into this shady corner of hers the wind comes 
cuttingly enough down a narrow by-street, and age 
is apt to be chill. 

Perhaps not from age or cold alone does she 
shiver, now and again, especially when her keen 
eyes return, urged by a species of irresistible fas- 
cination, to that spot in the midst of the market 
square where men are busy building up something. 
Full and bright the rich sunshine falls on them 
and on their work, as if it approved and caressed. 
Mother Ursula had seen such preparations before 
now, and knows what they portend ; the blackened 
timbers, the pile, the cord, are not utter novelties 
to her ga/e, and she is bigot enough rather to 
relish the Church's cruel justice. Still the withered 



face, puckered over as if knives had seamed every 
inch of skin, is singularly troubled. She is paler 
than the string of white beads that encircles her 
wizened throat in double row, and at which she 
clutches sometimes absently. 

" He was guilty ; he would have been condemned 
in any case ;" so her thoughts ran. " There were 
other witnesses besides me ; and, moreover, could I 
refuse to speak? It would have availed him 
nothing, and Father Antonio says that it would be 
a mortal sin on my soul." She pattered off a set 
of prayers rapidly. " I'm a poor old woman, and 
couldn't afford to buy indulgences/ 7 Here she 
stirred up the smouldering charcoal with a huge 
rusty key, that of her own dwelling in a neigh- 
bouring alley : her finger touched the fuel for an 

"Santissima! what bad pain! Ah! but burning 
must be a cruel pain. These heretics don't mind 
it, as I'm told. Well, he will be strangled first. 
He always sneered at my relics. Many a good 
sale he has hindered. Still Fm sorry I bore wit- 
ness, but I was forced. Perhaps the petitions of 
so many worthy citizens, true sons of the Church, 
may prevail with their lordships the deputies to 
save him, if he recant his errors." 


Thus endeavouring to quiet her uneasy con- 
science, which even now felt the murder-stain upon 
it, she looked forth again from under the penthouse 
of her black brows to the piazza. Already the 
crowd from the country was assembling for the 
spectacle, peasants with their wives and daughters 
taking up the best positions along the sides and on 
door-steps a gay-coloured bordering to the rough 
brown houses. 

"Well, Monna Ursula, and how fares it?" in- 
quired the rich round voice of Caterina's father. 
" So the fellow is to be executed after all ?" 

The old woman laid down the charcoal pipkin, 
and her countenance perceptibly changed when she 
heard that. 

"The citizens have just come back from the 
council-chamber. His Eminence wouldn't hear of 
it. He says an example is necessary to frighten 
the Lutherans. And, for my own part, I say down 
with all slanderers of our Madonna del Sasso!" 

The impulsive crowd lining the piazza caught 
the words, and re-echoed them in a shout. It was 
not to be endured that any man should dare to 
doubt the power and glory of their pet idol, Our 
Lady of the Stone. 

" What, girl ! do you tremble ?" for Caterina 


clutched her father's arm nervously as the shout 
sprang up and circled round among the people. 
u She was ever a timid dove," he said half-apolo- 
getically, to old Ursula, who had the reputation of 
a sharp nose wherewith to smell heresy ; " 'tis no 
sympathy she bears for heretics, believe me. But 
what, mother ! shutting up your stall ? I should 
say there never was a better day for driving a good 
trade. Every man will want to prove himself a 
good Catholic." 

The old woman was hastily gathering her re- 
liquaries, bits of blessed bone and rags, and metal 
Madonnas, and crucifixes, and rude, flaring pictures, 
into a basket beneath her little counter, huddling 
all those reverend objects together promiscuously, 
as they had been so many chips of most unreverend 

" A touch of a certain faintness that seizes me 
now and again," whispered her shaking lips. " A 
sinking and weakness at the heart. Our Lady up- 
hold me ! Help me to lift this basket, friend ; 'tis 
heavy for my old arms. I will get me home and 
lie down ; these breezes are over sharp." 

" Nay, good mother, but I will carry it for thee." 
And the peasant's brawny muscles raised the 
trifling weight on his shoulder, and took the 


sealdino in his hand. " Caterina, support her, and 
lead the way." 

Old Ursula had never fully realized the fact that 
her evidence had actually brought a good man to 
his death until now, when she heard the failure 
of his fellow-townsmen's intercession. She had 
strongly hoped that it would have availed to save 
his life, for he had already undergone sore punish- 
ment. She had been the informer who began his 
persecution ; she felt she could not dare to stay 
now and view the completion of her work. 

"And they say," quoth the peasant, walking 
after the two women along a street so narrow that 
his hands could without difficulty have touched the 
houses on either side " they say he was tortured 
yesterday put to the question they call it. I'm 
told he was slung up by a rope to the ceiling, and 
suddenly let fall with a jerk, to dislocate his bones, 
poor wretch ! I dare say he wishes he had let our 
Lady alone before now. But there's no teaching 
these heretics." 

Dame Ursula uttered an irrepressible moan. 
" Here is the house, my daughter, and this is the 
key. Nay, thy father had best turn it ; 'tis hard 
on thy small hands. I'll go and say prayers 
for the poor wretch's soul, if I may pray for an 


unrepentant blasphemer of our Lady. I'll go to 
the Church of San Giorgio." 

" And thou wilt let me go with thee, good 
mother? I shall pray likewise. I fear to look on 
his death." 

Poor little heart of Caterina, how fast it beat, to 
think that Luigi had more than once spoken ir- 
reverently of that very Madonna del Sasso, thereby 
repeating the crime for which Nicolas had to die. 

But her father insisted on her return to the 
market-square; and they left the old woman mut- 
tering and mumbling in the gloomy stone vault 
which she called her chamber, and which was hung 
with musty valuables of the relic class. 

" Methinks Mother Ursula likes not what she 
has helped to do," observed the peasant, shrewdly. 
" But there will be one heretic the less in Locarno." 

The piazza had become considerably more 
crowded during the interval of their absence. 
Guards paced up and down to keep a clear space 
all about the spot where execution was to be doire. 
The workmen had completed their hideous scaffold- 
ing, above which rose a high black stake with a 
cross-beam ; a gaunt outline well known in Italian 
cities of that age. 

This stake was girt about with a broad pile of 


brushwood and fagots. One or two executioner's 
assistants were building up the raw material into 
a proper shape for readier burning when the 
human body should be laid in its core. The 
laying of every fagot had a horrid fascination for 
Caterina's eyes. Hid in a corner of a church 
porch, behind her father's broad shoulders, she 
could peer through a crevice at the central object 
of attraction. She beheld seats arranged for the 
honourable deputies of the Swiss Catholic cantons, 
and for the illustrious nuncio and his attendant 
ecclesiastics, where was the best sight-seeing focus. 
She saw the windows of the tall dark houses filled 
with faces looking down, except where the great 
blank walls of the Dominican convent stretched 
along, incapable of revealing aught to the most 
earnest gaze. Even the roofs were crowded, so far 
as she could see from her shelter. 

" Our prefect won't much relish being present 
at this afternoon's work," remarked a brawny 
blacksmith to his neighbour the peasant. " He's 
a Lutheran at heart is that Monsignor Reuchlin ; 
but he had better beware keen eyes are on him." 

" What ! does he favour heretics ?" asked the 
other, who had all a peasant's veneration for the 
civic magistracy. 


" Amico mio, though you are from the country, 
I should think you might know better than to ask 
that," retorted the blacksmith, looking at him. 
" Why, he tried to save this very Nicolas, by try- 
ing him in his own court, and giving him a fool's 
sentence of sixteen weeks 7 imprisonment. For- 
sooth ! as if he had stolen a loaf of bread instead 
of the good name of our Lady. But the Lords 
of the Seven Cantons are not easily blindfolded, 
and his Eminence quickened their zeal." 

" Why," interposed a little man in front of the 
group, turning quickly round, " what would be- 
come of Locarno if the chapel of our Madonna 
were defamed ? No more pilgrimages, if all men 
thought as these scurvy Lutherans do, nor votive 
oiferings, nor traffic of travellers stopping at thy 
forge to shoe their beasts, friend, and at my shop 
to purchase images of our Lady. For every con- 
sideration of public policy these Lutherans must 
be extirpated. The Holy Office must become 
more vigorous." 

"Hark, father! hearest thou not the distant 
chant ?" whispered Caterina from the shadow. 

The chattering crowd for an Italian assemblage 
is always talkative grew presently hushed under 
that sound, as if a chill crept through their ranks. 


" Miserere, Domine I" 

Nearer and nearer swelled the long-drawn into- 
nations of that prayer, appealing to heaven for 
mercy refused by man on earth ! And soon ap- 
peared the friars in their gray woollen frocks and 
rope girdles, walking in couples along the victim's 
death-path, rolling forth the unctuous " miserere" 
in a medley of bass and tenor voices. Two of 
them had the doomed man under convoy, alter- 
nately brandishing crucifixes before his downcast 
eyes and pouring exhortations into his ears. 

There was a movement among the crowd like a 
ground swell when the procession debouched into 
the square ; arid another movement, much more 
thrilling, and a suppressed murmur when the pal- 
lid prisoner came past. The majority of the gazers 
had seen him a thousand times, this poor Protest- 
ant tradesman Nicolas, whose humble life could 
furnish no reproach, save the few hot-headed words 
against the Virgin spoken in the haste of argu- 
ment with a neighbour words no stronger than 
you, my reader, would pronounce if called upon 
to believe that in a particular church in your next 
street a particular picture was curing the sick and 
giving sight to the blind. You, safe in the nine- 
teenth century, would scout the notion with in- 


credulity. So did the tradesman Nicolas ; but be 
lived three hundred years toe* soon for such liberty 
of speech. 

That the weeks of imprisonment had told on 
him, and yet more the dislocating torture, those of 
his acquaintance in the crowd could see. The sup- 
port of the strong monks at' each side was ab- 
solutely necessary for his failing limbs. Some of 
the lookers-on misconstrued this physical weakness 
into dread or unwillingness, but that impression 
subsided when he raised his face and they saw how 
untroubled it was. The poor thin features were 
glorified with calm, at sight of which all the wo- 
men crossed themselves and believed the heretic 
delivered over to a delusion. 

But there were certain among the crowd who 
could understand the grand composure on that 
humble man's commonplace countenance, and knew 
that it proceeded neither from stupor nor from an 
attempt at heroism. Many of the Protestants of 
Locarno were present to look upon their brother's 
death, and to aid his constancy by their silent 
prayers. Once that he glanced round upon the 
people he caught a glimpse of some friendly eyes, 
and was strengthened by the human sympathy in 
his consciousness of the divine. 


For a moment the composure of his spirit had 
been disturbed when he beheld the gaunt appa- 
ratus of death beside him. There were certain 
things in this world, certain joys in his obscure 
life, which made it as hard for Nicolas to leave it 
as for any noble sufferer whom history records. 
But God had opened his eyes to see higher joys 
beyond the black gulf yawning at his feet, and had 
ennobled him with the inspiration of a celestial 
love. For Christ's sake he could even die. 

That supreme moment was not yet come. Into 
an old carved stone pulpit at an angle of the pi- 
azza clambered a monk, and began to preach partly 
to the people, partly to the prisoner. His coarse 
cowl fell back from the tonsured head, his ascetic 
face gleamed with eagerness, as he urged upon Nic- 
olas a recantation for his souPs sake. 

" The blessed padre Antonio ! He would stir 
the very stones with his words !" quoth the wo- 
men. " A most blessed man ! They say he can 
even work miracles !" 

But the heretic's Ineart was beyond his power. 
Perhaps the heretic's ears scarce took note of the 
fervid exhortation. Those near him observed his 
lips moving, and his downward gaze abstracted. 

" Father, father," said Caterina in the church 


porch, " let me away ! I cannot look upon the 
death. I will to the altar's foot, and pray for him 
if perchance even at the last he may be moved to 
forsake his errors : father, I must go !" and she 
swung aside the great folding door behind her, and 
entered the cold, dim church. 

u A plague on the girl and her tender-hearted- 
ness !" exclaimed the father, after grasping her 
cloak in an effort at detention. But the juncture 
was too interesting to admit of moving his gaze 
from the scaffold. " Santissima ! how firm he 
stands on the ladder ! How he looks round ! Ha ! 
there's the iron in the executioner's hand that's to 
girdle his throat." 

And so the sermon preached that day in the 
Locarnese market-place came to an end ; the 
monk's words crowned with the martyr's deed. 



'HE execution of Nicolas seemed to sever the 
last bond between the reformed Locarnese and 
their native city. It also served to lull per- 
secution somewhat for a time, as a victim cast to 
a ravenous beast temporarily allays his fury. The 
Catholic citizens were not without emotions of 
pity for these fellow-townsmen who were about to 
suffer the loss of all things except life of property, 
friends, home, country for the mere sake of re- 
ligious opinion. It was incomprehensible to the 
worldly-wise; only a few loftier natures had a 
glimpse of the moral magnificence of the renun- 
ciation, and admired without the power to imitate. 
But the Lords of the seven Romish cantons and 
their counsellors the priests relented not. They 
procured an edict from the Milanese government, 
within whose jurisdiction lay the easiest passes of 
the Alps, forbidding any of their subjects to ex- 
tend shelter or assistance to the Locarnese exiles, 
even during their necessary journey, on pain of 


death. This edict greatly perplexed the poor 
Protestants ; it cut them off from the accessible 
entrance to their brethren in Switzerland. Now 
their only route lay through the country of the 
Grisons, and it was improbable that the passes of 
the Helvetian Alps were open thus early in the 
year. In any case, they must depart from Locarno 
on the third of March. 

On the evening of the day previously, a man 
and a woman might have been observed walking 
slowly along the mountain-path we have seen be- 
fore, near the rude, rusty-looking wayside cross. 
They were evidently in deep converse, and the 
maiden had been weeping. 

" Nay, my Caterina, but thou wouldst not have 
me give up my faith and my conscience even for 
thy sake ?" asked Luigi, taking her passive hand ; 
"thou wouldst not have a perjured hypocrite for 
thy husband ? But, moreover, this separation 
shall be only for a time a short time. I will re- 
turn when I have found a home for thee, anima 
mia, and we shall be parted no more till God 
parts us." 

" But thou art leaving thy friends thy country 
the house thy fathers built and going forth a 
poor wanderer on the world. See how all men 


hate the Lutherans ! Thou wilt be no better than 
one of them. Oh, Luigi, where didst thou learn 
this wretched heresy ? Why couldst thou not live 
and die as our ancestors have done ?" 

He paused before the cross and made a rever- 

"Because I have seen Him who died there," he 
said, in a low tone. "Nay, mistake me not; I 
have not looked on the blessed Christ with my 
bodily eyes, but with the sight of my soul I have 
seen his most holy sacrifice for my redemption, and 
I know that friar or eucharist can do no more for 
me than he hath performed in dying. Therefore I 
must depart where I can worship him purely, 
without committing sin." 

" Thou didst never speak of it to me before," 
said Caterina, after a pause. 

" Because I feared thou wouldst shun me hate 
me, anima mia! I cared more for that than for 
his Eminence and all his monks." 

She had thought him stern in his declaration of 
departure at the opening of their interview, hard 
and cold in his resolve to cast in his lot with the 
proscribed Protestants. It seemed such a fearful 
sacrifice. Why should he set himself up to be 
wiser than all the blessed priests and bishops, and 


join the people that everybody despised and de- 
tested ? 

" I hope thou wilt know one day," Luigi had 
said, looking at her affectionately ; " I hope thou 
wilt feel the reason in thine own heart, as I do. 
Thinkest thou it is no trial to me to depart, 
Caterina? But I would do even more than this 
for the sake of the most blessed Saviour." 

" How knowest thou that he would have thee 
do it, Luigi ?" she asked, with some shrewdness. 

" Little one, God has written a book for all men to 
read, which contains his will and his orders to men. 
In this book, which the monks keep to themselves, 
there is not one word about praying to our blessed 
Lady, or to the holy saints, or about purgatory; 
and there are many words against bowing down to 
images. Now, if I stay here, I shall be obliged to 
do all that the book tells me not to do, unless I 
want to lose my life." 

" But if thou didst propound thy doubts to a 
reverend monk say to that holy padre Antonio ; 
they say he is most learned in such matters." 

" What ! he who preached while Nicolas was 
burning ? I care not to walk right into the wolf's 
den, little one. Thou wouldst not relish to see mo 
strung up to the black stake." 


" Oh, Luigi, hush ! Go if thou wilt. And I 
will pray our Lady " 

" Thou mightest as well pray to the mountain- 
top, Caterina; she hears thee not, being but a 
woman, and far away in heaven. But pray in the 
name of the most blessed Christ, who loveth us, 
and hath power to help. I will pray for thee, 

And thus they parted, the chasm of a diverse 
creed between them. 

Poor little Caterina wept abundantly, and felt 
very wretched, when next morning in the early 
dawnlight she beheld the flotilla of boats begin to 
cross the lake, a long procession of penniless exiles. 
Her heart was not more sad than many another 
among those two hundred families uprooted for 
ever from their homes. Luigi found companions 
enough in tribulation. Some shed silent tears; 
the more impulsive mourned aloud. A few firm 
natures held back their emotions, and sustained 
the rest by their words and demeanour. Perhaps 
not half a dozen among them all would have re- 
scinded the declaration of faith which was costing 
them so much, but natural feeling would have 
way, and no enemies were looking on to cause the 
restraint of pride. 


It is well" that we should occasionally realize 
such scenes, that we should now and then lift our 
thoughts from the widespread toleration of our 
age, and look back on the less favoured centuries, 
when pauperism and banishment were deemed 
mild punishments for religious belief. Which of 
us would have held by his Protestantism as did 
these Locarnese, when to do so involved worldly 
ruin ? From the midst of our safety and comfort 
let us gaze with admiration at the men and women 
who feared utter poverty and persecution less than 
a compromise of their faith. 

Bianca and her mother (who had stealthily re- 
turned the previous evening) were seated together 
in the stern of a barge, hand clasped in hand. 
Theirs were the most heroic hearts on board just 
then, for they had the cordial of a glad meeting to 
string each flagging nerve. Much was told in a 
low voice of the various events since they had 
parted ; often each eye glanced at the moody figure 
of the physician, who paced up and clown the deck 
outside the shed which sheltered the women of the 
party. What a droop in his shoulders since a 
month ago ! The look of broken fortunes was 
upon him. And without doubt it was somewhat 
hard, while he possessed not the spirit of a martyr 


for conscience' sake, to be compelled to suffer a 
martyr's hardships. 

At last the signora caught her husband's eye, 
and beckoned to him to sit beside her. He com- 
plied with a languid smile. 

"Thou art looking wearied, my friend; the last 
weeks have told on thee, dear one," she said, 
tenderly. "Bianca hath been giving me the 
history of all that has taken place, more fully 
than Francesco's hints could do.'"' 

" Ay, Francesco," repeated the physician ; " he is 
a good fellow. I trust he may be able to save 
some remnant of my property in Locarno. He 
has a rare head for business, though so young. I 
doubt that the confiscation can extend further than 
the bailiwick." 

And over that he fell into a brown study, pass- 
ing his fingers through his grizzled beard, while 
his elbow rested on his knee. 

Which of us all would not have looked long- 
ingly back at the Egyptian flesh-pots under like 
circumstances? Di Montalto is a representative 
man of the majority. 



//-LOWLY the heavily-laden barges crossed the 
k lake, propelled by the usual long oars, which 
in Italy are invariably pushed forward, not 
pulled backward, as with us. From distant spurs 
of the shore the goatherd and vinedresser saw the 
procession of boats, and knew that it was no pleas- 
ure party nor holiday gathering of pilgrims to 
some shrine, but the passage into exile of brave 
souls. And so surely does persecution work ad- 
versely to what its promoters would desire that 
even the dullest hind could not but think there 
was a reality in the faith for which these men and 
women were suffering the loss of the chief things 
which sweeten life. 

Ere they were halfway to the northern extremity 
of the lake the brightness of the morning became 
overcast, threatening clouds floated up from the 
mountain gorges, and blackened overhead into 
dense masses. Luigi, who was working one of the 
oars with might and main, as finding muscular ex- 



ertion the best specific for his mental disquietude, 
sprang to reef the broad, discoloured canvas, which 
hitherto acted as sail, just before the stormy shower 
came rushing from its lair in a defile and burst on 
the leading boat. 

Di Montalto was roused from the reverie con- 
cerning his confiscated possessions by the sharp 
pelting of sleet, and by the oarsmen's exertions to 
render the shed a more effective shelter for the 
women of the party. The sail was flung across so 
as to curtain the open sides partially, but the 
passionate shower was not thus to be balked. It 
continually rent up the corners of this canopy and 
beat in with vehemence at unexpected points, each 
drop cold and cutting as steel. Bianca was very 
soon drenched and shivering, but no worse than 
many of the other poor women and children on 
board. A few cowered round the single rude 
stove and kept themselves comparatively dry. 
The men abided the blast as best they could out- 

"Coragio, signorina mia!" said Luigi, making 
his way toward Bianca and her mother through the 
crowded deck, and bearing something aloft in his 
hand. "The sky is clearing in the east; we shall 
have fair weather by and by. Fair weather of 


every sort, ladies. But in the mean time, here's a 

The warm earthen pipkin was a comfort by no 
means to be despised. Luigi went back to his oar 
and toiled strenuously. The signora told her 
daughter what she knew of him how he had 
daily brought her supplies of food during her con- 
cealment in the mountains ; how he had told her 
his religious doubts and fears, those rifts in the 
clouds which precede the dawn of divine truth in 
the soul ; how for conscience' sake he was leaving 
all whom he loved, and going in search of a new 
home where he would have freedom to worship God. 

It is a pitch of sublime devotion to abstract 
principle which we in these days of complacent, 
self-indulgent religion can hardly comprehend in 
all its bearings. Yet poor Luigi felt anything but 
heroic at the present juncture. What enthusiasm 
can resist the combined influence of wet and cold ? 
His sensitive Southern nature sank to zero. 
Doubts, desires, anxieties thronged over his heart. 
He could have leaped ashore and gone back to 
Catarina, were that possible. 

" Friend, I will take your oar," said a voice 
beside him the physician's. " My wife would 
speak with you." 


Had not the woman's keen eye seen the sinking 
spirit and the need of cordial ? She had the very 
best ready, and for others besides Luigi, in the 
broad book open on her knee. No human words 
were fit to breathe comfort to their deep poverty. 
God's own words might do it. 

Forth shone the unveiled sun brilliantly as the 
diminished clouds glided away, having spent their 
showers ; and she began : 

" Thus saith the Lord of heaven and of earth to 
his poor children : ' Fear thou not ; for I am with 
thee: be not dismayed ; for I am thy God. I will 
strengthen thee ; yea, I will help thee ; yea, I will 
uphold thee with the right hand of my right- 

" ' Behold, all they that were incensed against 
thee shall be ashamed and confounded : ... for I 
the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying 
unto thee, Fear not. . . . When thou passest 
through the waters, I will be with thee; and 
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : 
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not 
be burned ; for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy 
One of Israel, thy Saviour.' ' ; 

These glorious words came not hackneyed to the 
hearing of the exiles. Few of them, though 


banished for the Bible's sake, had read that Bible 
through, or were acquainted with more than the 
salient points of its histories. A direct and ex- 
press revelation could scarce have soothed those 
sore hearts better than did this adaptation of the 
old Hebrew verses. 

Barbara di Montalto paused for a few moments, 
turning over the leaves, before she repeated 

" ' Blessed are they which are persecuted for 
righteousness' sake ; for theirs is the kingdom of 
heaven. 7 Dear friends, is not the reward worth 
the suffering ?" 

" It is ! it is !" burst from the impulsive listeners. 
"The kingdom of heaven is worth it all !" 

" Ah ! we don't know that so well now as we 
shall by and by," said the lady. "By and by we 
shall see the glory and the gain ! Now the dark 
cloud shadows our path ; then shall be eternal sun- 
shine. Let us further see what Christ our Saviour 
has suffered for us" 

And she read in her distinct, low voice the nar- 
rative in the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew's 
Gospel to the fiftieth verse. The deepest silence 
grew on her audience as she proceeded. The 
children, hushed by their mothers, nestled against 
their skirts and hearkened to that wondrous his- 


tory of divine love and pain. No sound in all 
the dense freight of living beings save the regular 
plash of the oars and the voice of the reader, unless 
when an occasional exclamation testified to the 
depth of suppressed emotion in some heart. Tears 
were stealing down more than one brown cheek 
when the climax was solemnly pronounced : 

" Jesus, having again cried with a great voice, 
gave up his spirit/'* 

It was enough. The contrast between their 
small suffering and his mighty pangs was sug- 
gested to each soul of the exiles. 

" The good Lord ! the most blessed Christ ! 
We love thee ; we give thee thanks." Such were 
their exclamations, and presently they burst into a 
simultaneous hymn of praise. From boat to boat 
it echoed, and was caught up as by electric im- 
pulse. All faces brightened; even Di Montalto 
smiled, and a light dawned in his leaden eyes, as 
his daughter wound her arm within his and 
joined in the triumphal music. 

" That is all very well, my little one," he said, 
afterward, " but where are we to find daily bread ?" 

"The good Lord will provide, father. He 

* A literal translation of the Italian version of Matt, 
xxvii. 50. 


knows all about us, and that we shall have no 
food except he send it. I'm not afraid that he 
will forget us, father." 

" Ay, and Francesco may be able to save some 
of the property outside of the bailiwick/ 7 said 
the physician, thoughtfully. His trust in the arm 
of flesh was strong. 

Bianca was silent for a few minutes, then timidly 
asked, " Father, I hope he runs no danger no 
great danger ?" 

" Danger?" repeated her father, somewhat testily; 
"why we are all in danger continually, especially 
we who have the misfortune to be suspected of 
Lutheranism, child. The very earth and air are 
full of enemies for us ! If those rascally Lords 
of the Seven Cantons have not a band of condot- 
tieri on the road to the Grisons to fall on and 
slaughter us, poor outlaws of the creation, we 
may be thankful. Such things have been done 
before now, child." 

She shuddered slightly, for sudden death is 
tremendous even to the most spiritually-minded 
when violence is the means. She narrowly scanned 
the nearing shore. Nothing but crags and rocks 
and green patches between. Ah ! something moves 
on that beetling summit. Nay, 'tis but a wild 


gotit browsing, and raising his horned head to look 
wonderingly on the boats below. 

" But, father," she said, " the Lords of the Can- 
tons would not be guilty of such wickedness ; for 
when the nuncio wanted them to detain the chil- 
dren of the Lutherans, that they might be brought 
up in the Romish faith, the Lords would not 

" It is tyranny, the grossest tyranny," exclaimed 
the physician, chafing against his loss for the hun- 
dredth time. " These," indicating his fellow-pas- 
sengers, " have all some remnant of property, but 
I I have none. I, a Montalto, am a pauper 
in my gray hairs. I'll appeal to the Diet ; they 
must do me justice." 

" Father," Bianca murmured, with an ap- 
pealing look which would have disarmed the 
worst anger " Father, dost remember the prayer, 
' Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven ?'" 

" But I cannot see that it is God's will. I 
can only see it man's most unrighteous and cruel 
will," he said. 

She answered nothing to that, for she felt that 
his view was natural enough ; she only pressed 
his arm lovingly. Her last words worked the 
better for her present silence. 


Rejoining her mother shortly afterward, she 
observed, with a little sigh, " Madre mia, what a 
wicked man is that Walther, who caused all this 
persecution !" 

" We will not think of him, dear. Our blessed 
God has permitted his evil doings for some wise 
purpose, which we do not see as yet, but shall 
know hereafter. The only vengeance we can take 
is to pray for him, Bianca." 

But the thought of many in that company would 
revert to the act of treachery and falsehood which 
laid fitting foundation for all subsequent injustice 
toward the Protestants, and it required a very 
efficient Christianity truly to forgive the prime 
mover in the iniquity. Walther was town-clerk of 
Locarno, and had some years before forged a deed, 
which he sent to the assembly of the seven Catholic 
cantons when the time was fully ripe. The deed 
purported to be a declaration on oath, by which 
the senators and citizens of the bailiwick of Lo- 
carno bound themselves to adhere to the Romish 
religion, and to their holy father the pope until the 
meeting of a general council should settle the 
world's theology. Immediately on receipt of this 
bond the deputies decreed that the Locarnese 
should fulfil their engagement by confessing to 


their priests during the coming Lent, and that no 
rites of burial should be permitted to any person 
who should die without receiving the Romish eu- 
charist. After that decree came the choice offered 
to the inhabitants either to profess the Catholic 
religion or to leave their native land for ever, and 
seven deputies were sent from the Catholic cantons 
to enforce the edict on the spot. Zurich alone, of 
the four Reformed cantons, protested warmly against 
this tyranny, but her single voice availed nothing, 
except as encouragement to the oppressed. 

Zurich was now the refuge they sought to gain. 
They had sent a deputation to request shelter for 
their brethren in the faith. During those highly 
theologic centuries, when the pivot of the world's 
politics was a question of creed, no bond was closer 
between man and man than a common belief. 
Nationality was not so near a connection. These 
Locarnese, Italians to all intents and purposes, 
turned from their native land and their native 
language to settle among the foreign Swiss, and 
feel them the closest friends. 

Before noon they had disembarked, and began 
the most toilsome part of their pilgrimage. Some 
few mountain ponies, some sure-footed mules, some 
strong oxen drawing carts, were the means of 


transport not half enough for such a multitude 
as two hundred families. So the weakest were 
sent forward, and the others walked in long pro- 
cession after them. Many a tearful last look was 
cast upon their beautiful lake as they climbed the 
pass which would soon shut it from their view for 

Past the Helvetic bailiages, past the town of 
Belli nzone, trudged the heretic pilgrims, growing 
weaker every hour. But they knew it was not 
safe to pause until they entered Protestant territory. 
The country of the Orisons was this day's goal. 
They passed its frontier with an acclamation, and 
presently approached the town of Rogoreto. 

u Father, look, look !" exclaimed Bianca, point- 
ing forward to the barrier of Alps beyond, upon 
which wall of opal slowly dawned a pure, calm 
light, as if kindling from within, and cased with 

" Only the moon rising off there out of sight," 
explained the physician. "I'm sorry to see the 
mountains so snow-bound. We shall not be able 
to cross them for a month at least." 

He was only mistaken in his calculation as to 
time. Two months were to elapse before the exiles 
could pursue their journey. 



HITS Locarno had cast forth her heretics on 
the wide world. She was a purified city. 
"The accursed thing was rooted from her 
heart/' quoth the nuncio. She seemed by one bold 
stroke to have attained the beau ideal of the theo- 
logians and statesmen of that age perfect uni- 
formity in religion. 

It was to be expected that a remedy so violent 
would leave the patient weakly and exhausted. 
After a few days' fierce exultation, the Catholic 
enthusiasm collapsed in all but ecclesiastic minds. 
The gaps in the social and commercial circles of 
the town became disagreeably evident. Somehow, 
those ejected Lutherans had been pleasant neigh- 
bours, industrious citizens, faithful friends. Nay, 
they had been perhaps the cleverest in their re- 
spective callings, and the most upright ; for which 
reason mediocrities and less upright tradesmen had 
borne them no good will. But long-headed people 
began to suspect that Locarno had injured herself 



by such violent expression of her orthodoxy. The 
silk manufacturer the dyeing trade, had both been 
pretty well drained of their practitioners by the 
Protestant exodus. The blessing of the bishop of 
Terracina would be but a poor recompense for de- 
clining commerce. As yet, however, only the far- 
seeing few anticipated the real result of the 

Spoil was to be divided, and the wolves soon 
began to wrangle over it. Most Italian cities of 
the time had their Capulet and Montague, power- 
ful rival families continually at feud about one 
thing or other, who kept civic life in hot water. 
These in Locarno were named the Buchiachi and 
the Rinaldi, who had been temporarily leagued 
against the Lutherans. Now that this source of 
union was no more, they recommenced the chronic 
quarrel. Street skirmishes were not infrequent, 
where the combatants on both sides were good 
Catholics, and the bone of contention some portion 
of Protestant property derelict. A very big bone 
was the sovereignty of a neighbouring village va- 
cated by the heretics. 

This, or some other cognate cause of dissension, 
had one evening brought on a brawl in a wine-shop 
on the piazza. The smooth-tongued landlord 


sought to pacify both parties into a common con- 
sumption of his liquor, and, failing that, persuaded 
them to have out their quarrel in the street. Kush- 
ing forth headlong, the two foremost, charging one 
another with blind fury, came full upon poor old 
Ursula's frail stall, where she was just putting up 
her wares. A crash and a cry all had fallen to- 
gether, the relic-vender undermost. 

"What, ho! good Christians, help! here's a 
woman badly hurt," cried one of the combatants, 
when he had picked himself up and beheld the 
old woman motionless. " Holy Madonna ! but I 
believe she's dead. A piece of the wood must have 
hit her hard. Well, fate is fate, and she wouldn't 
let me have that tooth of San Ambrosio's this fore- 
noon under a broad piece. I may help myself to 
it now." So, coolly pocketing the relic from the 
owner's basket, the bravo turned away to join in 
the mele"e raging still a few yards off. 

But old Ursula was not dead. Presently a sharp 
pain forced through her dulled consciousness, and 
she opened her eyes to the faces bending over her. 
One, that of a friar supporting her head ; the 
other, of the young leech who had been applying 

" I told you how it was, Fra Pietro," observed 


the latter pale and intelligent face to the former 
flabby and undiscerning one. "She was but 
stunned, not slain, and should be taken home now, 
poor woman !" 

In which office he volunteered to assist per- 
sonally. When laid on the pallet in her gloomy 
stone chamber, she plucked his sleeve. 

" I know thee," she whispered ; " thou art the 
young Lutheran doctor from Padua ; it is not safe 
for thee to be here." 

" Nay, good dame, I fear not," he rejoined, and 
continued in the same suppressed tone to give 
directions for the compounding of a lotion to 
soothe her sprained foot. 

" But thou mightest fear me. Knowest thou not 
that it was I who bore witness to the death against 
Nicolas ?" she said, her glittering eyes fixed on 
his face. 

"I know it," he replied, bowing his head 
slightly. "Thou needest forgiveness truly for that 
misdeed, albeit Nicolas may well pardon thee for 
aiding in his translation among the angels of God, 
and count thee his best friend, Dame Ursula." 

She turned her head uneasily away, with an 
irrepressible moan, from sight of those grave, 
kindly eyes. 


"What are you saying?" asked the friar, 

" She seemeth to have some charge on her con- 
science," observed Francesco. Stooping over her 
for another instant, he added in the aforesaid low 
tone, " If we confess our sins to God, Christ is 
faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Pray to 
him, good mother." 

And he left the apartment, with the usual 
" buona notte," drawing his mantle forward, so as 
to conceal the lower part of his face, while a deep 
slouched hat shaded his upper features. 

" It puzzles me to recall where I have seen that 
young man before," quoth Fra Pietro. " Ah ! 
now I bethink me, it was in the piazza the day 
that Nicolas was burned. San Pietro defend us 
from heretics ! He took not his eyes from the pile 
to the very last. I fear much that he is one of 
like vein himself." 

" Good father, he would not have recommended 
me to confession with his last words were he a 
Lutheran," said the old woman, cunningly. 

" And did he so ? Then is he a true son of our 
holy Mother Church, for nothing do these heretics 
detest so entirely as confession to a priest. Well, 
my daughter," and Fra Pietro assumed his pro- 


fessional drawl and his professional half-closed 
eyes, " I am ready, as thy ghostly father, to receive 
thy confession, and to give thee the grace of abso- 
lution when thou shalt have opened to me thine 

" Father, I must prepare myself by thought and 
prayer, for I would make it a general confession, 
and my old memory needs quickening. To-morrow, 
at noon, I shall be ready for thee. I am in sore 
pain now." 

Fra Pietro hitched up his rope girdle and de- 
parted, his fingers raised in a hasty benediction; 
for he just remembered that the evening meal at 
his monastery was approaching, and this was not a 
fast day. A neighbour woman, who came in to 
trim the feeble lamp and gossip over the accident, 
had also gone, when Dame Ursula raised herself, 
and drew from her bosom a small bright object, 
which she kissed fervently. It was counted a 
most precious relic, even a bit of the wood of the 
true cross, set in silver under a crystal lid a 
treasure so costly as to have absorbed most of the 
old woman's life-long savings ; and so enviable 
that she scarce dare avow its possession. 

Yet even the fervid grasp of this valued object 
gave her conscience but little ease just now. She 


had never got rid of the blood-stain of that bearing 
witness against the Lutheran Nicolas. Two or 
three absolutions since had not wiped it out, nor 
all the spiritual sophistry of her confessors dead- 
ened the feeling of guilt. Uneasy from pain of 
body and of mind, she lay awake the livelong 
night, while the little lamp burned out and the 
moon traced with a silver arrow the loophole on 
the dark wall. Very little would have made the 
old relic-vender behold visions in that bright ray. 
A degree more of mental excitement, a pulsation 
or two of fever, and the moonbeam would have 
quivered with angels to her gaze. 

Litany after litany, paters, aves and credos by 
the decade, she repeated to her long black rosary. 
" St. Barnabas, St. Lawrence and all the holy 
martyrs ! St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, and all 
the holy doctors ! all the holy pontiffs, all the holy 
virgins and widows, all the holy saints of God 
orate pro me !" Such was the style of Ursula's 
prayers, and hence may be judged their efficacy. 
Conscience was really aroused now, and no such 
opiates could lull it to sleep. 

Midday was ncaring when the little Caterina, 
missing the old woman from her accustomed stand 
in the market-place, looked into the dark chamber 


where she lived. A fine young gentleman stood 
by the bed, talking earnestly. When he turned 
his face to notice what caused the shadow in the 
open door, she recognized the student whom she 
had seen in the piazza one day. 

" Go on, signor," said the tremulous tones of old 
Ursula. How weak and ill she looked, even by 
this insufficient light ! " Go on ; it is only the 
little Caterina ; you may speak before her." 

" The best way that I can speak for thee, good 
dame, is to pray ;" and down on the blocks of stone 
he kneeled and held up his hands toward heaven. 
What! was the relic-seller listening to a heretic 
prayer? Yet she dared not interrupt his few 
solemn words. But she grasped the bit of the true 
cross tightly as a talisman against evil, and kept 
repeating under her breath a host of aves. 

"Blessed be all in this house!" exclaimed the 
friar, entering, with his three fingers uplifted in 
the stereotype form of benison. 

" I was telling my rosary, good father," said the 
old woman, to explain the devotional attitudes of 
the party ; for Caterina had had her face buried in 
the pillow beside her aged friend. 

"A pious and worthy office, my daughter," 
rejoined Fra Pietro, " when partaken of by worthy 


souls. And that young leech he knelt also? 
Methought I heard his voice as I drew near ;" and 
the ecclesiastical eyes looked cunning. 

Any reserve in the poor old penitent's conscience 
was quickly dragged to light by the machinery of 
the confessional. Fra Pietro laid on her a heavy 
penance for having hearkened to the Lutheran's 
prayer, and went away cogitating as to how he 
should stop this pestilence. 

Ursula was in agony of conflicting feelings when 
the peasant girl returned. Her confession would 
probably cause the arrest of that kind physician. 
She should be forced to bear witness again. " I 
must warn him, I must warn him/ 7 she repeated. 
" He must fly. Couldst thou seek him out, little 
one? Alas! I know not whither to guide thee ; 
and I will not have a second death to answer for, 
Santa Brigida, forgive me !" 




97 HE friar had gone away from old Ursula's 

Jl bedside in thoughtful mood, with that por- 
^ tentous under-lip of his pursed out and his 
broad thumbs deeply sunk in the rope girdle which 
bound his coarse woollen frock at the waist. His 
half-shut eyes fixed abstractedly on the uneven 
flagstones of the piazza, as he shuffled along in his 
sandals, were taken as the index of pious medita- 
tion within that shaven crown. " The holy man !" 
murmured the brown contadinas in the market- 
place, as with low obeisance they noted his ab- 
sorbed demeanour from beneath their hempen 
hoods ; a he is doubtless meditating on his breviary 
or reciting some sacred office." But Fra Pietro 
was only devising the best plan to circumvent a 
heretic ; which certainly was all of a piece with his 
habitual holiness, and nowise at variance with the 
popular existence of the same. 

The Franciscan well knew how dangerous was 
the leaven of these new doctrines, which threatened 



to disturb all the comfortable ecclesiastic arrange- 
ments of society by their uplifting and disrupting 
tendencies, and to eject his fraternity, in common 
with all others, as the veriest scum of the ferment. 
He was fully aware that if Lutheranism gained 
the upper hand, the power of the priesthood, both 
secular and regular, was at an end. Therefore he 
hated Lutherans with a blind, unreasoning hatred, 
and would willingly have lit the faggots that con- 
sumed Nicolas, or any other sectary holding those 
levelling doctrines. Something of the Demetrius 
spirit was in it: " Seeing that by this craft we have 
our wealth :" friars by these superstitions had their 

And here was a young Paduan student endeav- 
ouring to undermine that great pillar of all ortho- 
doxy, that mightiest engine of all Church power 
the confessional ! This pestilent heresy must not 
be allowed to spread; stamp out the spark at once, 
thought Brother Peter, and you will never have a 
conflagration. His dull nature was quickened into 
cunning by sundry hopes and fears hopes of the 
merit accruing to him with his superiors in the 
order for vigilance and discernment two qualities 
for which the monk had heretofore not been much 
distinguished; and, like all persons of similar 


mental calibre, lie was most desirous to be esteemed 
as possessing the sharpness of which he was devoid 
by nature. Likewise by fears a chronic dread of 
the heresy, and an immediate dread lest anybody 
else should discover the culprit and gain the 
honour and glory resulting therefrom. 

But he must put the conduct of the affair into 
abler hands than his own. Hence, when he 
entered the convent, and had learned from the lay- 
brother porter that their holy father the prior was 
absent on some spiritual mission in the town, Fra 
Pietro lounged into the cloisters and awaited his 
return with ill-dissembled impatience. 

He was not the sole occupant of the old stone 
benches under these carved gothic arches. One or 
two monks were reading, others were conversing, 
and pairs were walking to and fro arm-in-arm, re- 
citing Latin psalms in alternate verses, or, if less 
devotionally disposed, indulging in such gossip as 
the monastery afforded. 

Very small and scant were the items of news 
sufficient to animate the whole fraternity. We, in 
this age of electric telegraphs and daily newspapers, 
can scarcely form a conception of the narrow range 
of thought, the exceedingly limited vision, of a 
cenobite of those cloistered centuries. His widest 


horizon was the town in which he lived; his 
largest interests, the petty ambitions of his con- 
vent. The last few months had been times of un- 
wonted excitement: the decree against the Luther- 
ans of Locarno, the visit of the Seven Lords of 
the Homish cantons, and afterward of his Emi- 
nence the papal nuncio, the expulsion of the 
whole heretic population at one swoop, had, indeed, 
been stirring events; so much had not clustered 
together in any monk's memory there present, not 
even in that of aged, doting Fra Ambrogio, whose 
nerveless hands were spread feebly on his knees 
under the warm sunshine, and his lack-lustre eyes 
raised mildly to the face of each passer-by when 
the shadow touched him. '^ 

" But much I fear," observed a tall, ascetic- 
looking man, the loftiness of whose head bespoke 
a favourable moral development "much I fear, 
that only the branches have as yet been lopped 
off the root of the tree of heresy remains in our 
midst. That wholesale turning to the faith is sus- 
picious. I believe not in the devotion which must 
be forced at the spear's point." 

"Truly, truly!" muttered Fra Pietro in assent, 
from his seat in the corner, and nodded his round 
head portentously. "Truly, thou art right." 


''Brother Pietro hath made a great discovery 
to-day," remarked the second monk in an ironical 
tone. "Wherein dost thou vouchsafe to consider 
our Brother Stefan o right, good Pietro?" 

"In all that he saith about the heretics," was 
the somewhat sullenly spoken answer. Fra Pietro 
could not but be conscious that he was oftentimes 
the butt of the brotherhood; and now, when he 
was swelling with the importance of a secret, the 
sense of this was doubly galling. "I also v know 
that the pestilence is not extinct," he added. 

"When thou seest wine, my brother, thou 
knowest there have been grapes," said the other, 
turning away. But the monk Stefano paused. 

" Perchance our good brother has aught to im- 
part: thou wert in the town this morning?" he 
observed in the silkiest of tones, for the half-sup- 
pressed importance of Fra Pietro's manner struck 
him. But the latter had no idea of a premature 
disclosure; and, besides, the seal of the confessional 
was upon him. He had really little to tell of 
anybody, though his surmises and suspicions had 
been increasing every moment in magnitude till 
they filled the whole field of his mental vision, 
and caused him to view poor Francesco Altieri, 
the Pacluan student, as a monster of depravity and 


evil-doing, who must be had in safe-keeping as 
speedily as possible. 

Under these circumstances the good friar took 
refuge in nods and shakes of the head, meant to 
convey the vast importance of that knowledge 
which he held concealed, and the impossibility of 
revealing it to any but the superior of the monas- 
tery in proper person. 

" Our brother has doubtless had a vision by the 
special favour of his patron saint," said the monk 
who had before spoken ironically: "he would fain 
organize a new crusade against heretics." 

" Heretics ! ah, those are bad men," babbled Fra 
Ambrogio, raising his bleached face when he 
caught the word. "But Savonarola was none 
such. I remember" and he passed his hand 
over his poor wrinkled brow "I remember his 
heavenly face when he stood up to preach in the 
church of San Marco, in Florence, and the day 
when he headed the Dominicans to essay the ordeal 
of fire." 

"And the order of Saint Francis gained the 
victory!" interposed Brother Stefano, his cold eye 
kindling. "How came it thou wast not a Do- 
minican, Fra Ambrogio? thou dost espouse their 
champion so warmly, albeit he was a thorough- 


paced heretic as ever burned; the black habit 
would have suited thee better than the woollen 
frock, and then thou wouldst be of the dominant 
order that which hath the Holy Office, and all 
power in heaven and on earth in consequence," he 
added with some bitterness, for the rivalry be- 
tween these monastic tribes had always run high. 

"I I pardon me, good brother," said the old 
monk falter ingly " I am an aged man and infirm. 
I may say things I should not. But the prior of 
San Marco was to my soul an exceeding precious 
comforter in time of trouble, speaking of the love 
of Christ; therefore I did cleave to him; but he is 
gone, and I am an old man, very old I know not 
how many years it is ago." 

And the gleam of reasoning remembrance which 
had visited the aged brain died away into inarticu- 
late murmurs. 

"And he was once of the Florentine signory, 
sixty years ago !" observed the monk Stefano, with 
contemptuous compassion in his tone, as they 
walked away from the poor bent figure. " Me- 
thinks I should not care that my own novitiate for 
the kingdom of heaven were so lengthened as our 
good brother's. Ha! here comes our reverend 
father the prior." 


The prior paused before the aged Ambrogio, 
with a few kind words for his infirmities; while 
Fra Pietro, big with the importance of his revela- 
tion, lingered uneasily beside, the door he must 
pass at the farther end of the cloister. 

" Well, brother, what wouldst thou ?" asked the 
great man, coming upon him with a sudden move- 
ment, which rather disconcerted the slow-brained 

" My father, I have somewhat to say unto thee 
in private." Whereupon the prior swung open the 
heavy oaken door, and passed *rapidly along the 
corridor leading to his cell, having signed to Fra 
Pietro to follow. 

It was in nowise distinguished from the habita- 
tion of the humblest monk in the convent, except 
by the rare beauty of a silver crucifix hung upon 
the wall in full light of the deep window, and di- 
rectly above it a snowy skull resting on a bracket. 
What exquisite sculpture in that drooped head be- 
neath its thorny crown ! what an abandonment of 
agony in the suffering limbs ! The work was 
Benvennto Cellini's, who was then the highest 
sculptural celebrity in the world. 

" ivi) good brother, I must ask thee to be brief/' 
were the prior's words, as he seated himself on the 


hard bench, which, with a low table and a sleeping 
pallet pillowed by a log, composed the sole furni- 
ture of the apartment. 

In answer, Fra Pietro offered himself for con- 
fession. His spiritual father was listless enough 
at first, as expecting only some peccadillo needing 
absolution, or some cobweb of theologic perplexity 
troubling his thick-headed brother. But his atten- 
tion deepened very visibly toward the close of the 

" And I fear, my father, that I may have done 
wrong in according her absolution when she hath 
listened to such rank heresy." 

" No, no, good brother absolvo te thou hast 
acted to the best of thy judgment, and hereby I 
absolve thee. But who, sayest thou, was the second 
person who heard this young leech utter his blas- 

" A young contadina, my father. I know not 
more particularly ; though I have seen her in the 
market-place, methinks, before now." 

" Then I charge thee to discover, and have word 
for me at this hour on the "morrow." He rapidly 
repeated the Latin formula of absolution, and add- 
ed, " Thou hast done well, brother, to bring this 
matter before me, and wilt be discreet concerning 


it elsewhere." With which Fra Pietro was turned 
out of the cell, to relish the implied prohibition of 
his self-importance as he might, and find that in 
this instance duty was not its own reward. 

The Franciscans were determined to prove their 
zeal for the Church as well as their powerful rivals, 
the Dominicans, who occupied the vanguard as de- 
fenders of the faith. What seemed a goodly op- 
portunity was now at the prior's feet, and he had 
never been slow to make capital of pious deeds : 
what could be greater piety than to capture a noted 
heretic, and to procure evidence against him suffi- 
cient to warrant the interference of the secular 



HITS it came to pass that on the same evening 
after sundown three men, coming from differ- 
ent directions, dropped in, one after another, 
within the shadow of the " loggia/' or arcade, along 
the lower story of a house opposite to old Ursula's 
dwelling. They did not exchange a word, but 
watched the street intently. 

As a general rule, nothing watched for ever 
comes exactly when and how it is expected. An- 
drea d'Agnolo had begun to mutter through his 
moustache, and make various restive movements, 
like a warhorse kept too long in the stall, when 
that warning " Hist !" singularly resembling the 
sound of a serpent which Italians utter when they 
wish to attract one's notice, issued from the far- 
ther end of the loggia. 

Their prey was walking unsuspiciously up the 
centre of the narrow street, a cloak wrapped about 
him, so that they could not see whether he carried 



weapons. He paused an instant after knocking at 
old Ursula's door ere he entered. 

" Ecco ! he's trapped/' growled Andrea. " Now 
for your part, good neighbour." 

One of the three, who wore a civic dress and 
was apparently unarmed, stole from the loggia arid 
crossed the few yards into the passage beside the 
relic-seller's chamber. The two troopers followed, 
but did not take the same pains to get within ear- 
shot; they contented themselves with standing 
sentry at each doorpost. 

This is what the spy heard : 

" And in thy pain of body, good mother, I trust 
thou hast not pain of soul ? Didst thou confess, 
as I advised thee ?" 

Strange advice for a heretic ! thought the spy 
within himself. 

" Thou must go thou must fly, signer. I fear 
the sbirri will be upon thee each moment!" ex- 
claimed the old woman's voice, eagerly. " They 
will drag thee to prison perchance to the fate of 
Nicolas ! As thou valuest life, fly while there is 
time I" 

An evil smile grew on the concealed face of the 
listener on the threshold. 

"Nothing shall befall me but what my God 


pleases," was the calm rejoinder. " I will first 
dress these bruises of thine, good dame.' 7 

He could see that she was perceptibly weaker 
than in the morning, and that the healing process 
was almost at a stand in her aged frame. 

"Thou hast lived many years in this world, 
mother," he said, after a pause of attention to her 
injuries. " Thou hast a long life to remember, and 
a longer life soon to begin." 

The old woman groaned. " And my last action 
has been to do harm to thee, my kind friend," she 
said. " I have done thee a notable harm to-day 
all the saints preserve thee, signor ! I am a most 
unfortunate old wretch Santa Brigida forgive me ! 
but I did not intend to work thee evil." 

" Ask not the saints to forgive thee, dame" and 
the eavesdropper's nostrils quivered at this first 
scent of heresy " for they are doubtless blessed, 
but being men and women like ourselves, they can- 
not aid thy soul, nor wash it white of a single stain. 
But ask our most precious Lord to pardon thee, 
who died for thee on that painful cross ;" and he 
pointed to a rude crucifix in one corner of the 
meagre room, where, with much red paint and un- 
shapely carving, the death of the Saviour was set 
forth roughly and coarsely for common minds. 


" He will pardon thee," continued Francesco, 
withdrawing his gaze after an instant from the 
crucifix, as if the unfitness of the symbol almost 
pained him ; " and he will give thee the sense of 
pardon in thine heart a most joyous knowledge, 
a divine flame to warm thy whole being. This is 
God's absolution, dame without it, man's is little 

"Now thou speakest heresy, and I dare not 
listen to thee," interposed the old relic-vender. 
fl Fra Pietro laid penance on me of aves and credos, 
which this day hath been too short to fulfil by one 
half. Go, signer, go, and the blessing of all the 
holy saints be with thee !" 

Long before this the impatient Andrea d'Agnolo 
had been champing outside, though noiselessly, and 
much disposed to go in and cut short the conference 
by a summary arrest. As the Paduan student 
stepped over the threshold, the spy withdrew a few 
paces into the darkness and the troopers laid hands 
on their prisoner. 

Two against one, and fully armed men against a 
half-drawn rapier; yet the wild thought of the 
youth for the first moment was successful resist- 
ance; the next he was overborne and pinioned. 
Neighbours, putting forth cautious heads when the 


sound of the scuffle had ceased, beheld three dark 
figures passing away down the narrow street, and 
the fourth skulking at some distance behind. 
Woman-friends, nocking in to old Ursula for ex- 
planation, found her in a heavy swoon, unable to 
give any ; and, as under similar circumstances in 
the nineteenth century, they gossipped and chattered 
an infinite deal while bringing the poor patient 

" There hath an ill-favoured bravo been linger- 
ing about the street all the afternoon," quoth one, 
whisperingly. "I saw him when going to draw 
water at the piazza fountain methought as evil 
eye as ever glanced beneath a broad leaf." 

" Yes, yes," added another, " and he frightened 
mio poverino, the little Jacopo, nearly into fits. 
Our Lady defend us !" 

. " It is just those heretics again," put in a third 
oracle. " Locarno will have no peace till they are 
rooted out entirely. Just those heretics nothing 
else !" 

" Well," said a woman who had been particu- 
larly active about the sick Ursula, and was bathing 
her temples with water, " I have no evil to say of 
the Lutherans. Whatever their faith be, their 

deeds are more right than most good Catholics." 



They visit the sick and the aged like any friars or 
nuns in an order, and all for the love of God, 
without any vows. I remember when my Geron- 
imo was ill of the ague how the Signora di 
Montalto hath many a time ministered unto him 
with her own hands, and made savoury messes to 
tempt his appetite ; and she was wont to talk no 
heresy, but most sweetly to discourse of the divine 
and most blessed Christ.' 7 

"Ah, that is the worst," rejoined the last 
speaker ; " it is a poison which you know not till 
it begins to slay. They are too cunning openly 
to attack the Church, most of them. And as for 
the Signora di Montalto, it is well known that she 
uttered blasphemies in the ears of his illustrious 
Eminence the nuncio himself. Our blessed Mother 
preserve us from all delusions of Luther and of 
the devil I" 

"Amen!" echoed the pious women, crossing 
themselves with great expertness. Luther and the 
devil were wellnigh synonymous terms in Italian 
ears of that age ; and the sign of the cross was a 
specific to ward off any evil from either fiend. 

Of the two, it is probable that an orthodox 
Italian churchman in the sixteenth century enter- 
tained less dread of the latter, whose influence 


might indeed lead to the commission of sins, venial 
or mortal, as the case might be ; but a sufficiency 
of money or of penances would set all that to 
rights ; whereas the suspected influence of Lu- 
theran doctrine could by no means be atoned for, 
and entailed sundry direful inconveniences in this 
world, even to loss of goods and of life considera- 
tions which made the other influence clearly 

A mingled terror and rage was excited by the 
very name of the great German Reformer. The 
mass of the faithful believed in some witchcraft 
exercised by him and his followers, which drew 
away men from their allegiance to the Holy Father, 
and rendered them insensible to self-interest, even 
to self-preservation, where the new creed was con- 
cerned. The perpetually inexplicable fact of the 
Divine Spirit's agency on the soul, leading it into 
all truth, nerving it for all disaster that enigma 
of the renewed heart which has, since the gospel 
was first published, been a deep mystery to natural 
men was accounted for in the vulgar estimation 
by sorcery during the great Reformation move- 
ment ; as at the present day the wise, the wealthy 
and the learned are too often satisfied, in similar 
cases, with the solution " enthusiasm." 


Andrea d'Agnolo and his troopers, possessing 
the usual conscience and creed of men-at-arms, 
were least of all able to comprehend the faith 
of the heretics whom they hunted down. Pluck- 
ing a half-burnt brand from the hearth in the 
guard-room, the condottiere captain held it near 
his prisoner's face. 

" Ay, I thought thou wert not unknown to me/ 7 
he observed, flinging back his impromptu torch, 
which sent forth a volley of sparks. " I owe thee a 
grudge likewise, messer, if I don't mistake, for 
carrying off my lady the physician's wife after she 
was my lawful capture. Thou deservest to swing 
for that alone, my young sir, to teach thee better 
manners in future." 

Francisco replied nothing. He was only just 
beginning to realize that he was in the power of 
enemies whom he had done much to exasperate. 
Some bewilderment was over him; consequences 
and possibilities were so jumbled before his thoughts 
that he but half caught the meaning of Andrea's 
words. The next that distinctly visited his con- 
sciousness were these : 

" Do you hear, messer ? I say that I would 
fain ask thee a question for my own satisfaction. 
What business hast thou, being a fine, handsome 


young fellow, with the world before him, and plenty 
of advantages to make way in it too what busi- 
ness hast thou meddling with the musty creed of 
these Lutherans, and getting thy fingers burnt 
ay, and perchance thy whole body burnt too 
in their heretic practices ? Thou art no old 
man tired of life, nor hast had thy fill of enjoy- 
ment, and art now trying to secure the other world 
too ; though if we're to believe our good fathers, 
the friars, you're going the very way to lose both. 
I'm a rough soldier of fortune, and I haven't many 
words, nor many thoughts either, beyond my 
sword and my goblet, but I'd like to understand 

" They are all mad," succinctly observed the 
trooper Filippo. 

" Yes, madness m ight account for a man's stand- 
ing in the fire as if he didn't feel it while his ten 
fingers were blazing like torches, as I've seen at an 
auto dafe, which is the new Holy Office name for 
heretic bonfires; but it won't account for other 

" My friend," said Francesco, " we are not mad. 
We have counted the cost, and set this world 
against the next, and have seen which is best worth 
our pains and our esteem. And, moreover " 


" Enjoy the present, and let the future take care 
of itself that's my rule/' interrupted another of 
the band, whose huge, sensuous lower jaw fully bore 
out his assertion. " Priests and women pray 
enough for us all." 

" Ho, comrade, none of thy heathenish notions 
here," called the authoritative voice of the captain. 
" No man is the worse for an occasional ave or 
credo, and a relic or two inside his cuirass. Thou 
mayest be glad enough to don the cowl in thy 
coffin yet." 

For be it noted here, that to die and be buried 
in a monk's habit was considered, " during the 
ages of faith," one of the readiest modes of enduing 
the soul with some robe of righteousness; and, being 
so much less costly than a life of purity, and so 
much more comprehensible to the popular mind, 
than simple faith in the Redeemer's finished work, 
it was a mode much patronized, and originated an 
extensive -mercantile traffic in cast-off cowls, to the 
great benefit of divers fraternities. 

" But I have not answered the noble captain's 
inquiry," said the prisoner when he could get a 
hearing. " The heretics whom he had seen die were 
men who knew that heaven was right before them 
to enter, and who preferred that joy to a few years 


longer of this sorrowful earth. I also have seen 
such men die, shouting ' Victory' even amid the 
cries of their bodily anguish in the flames." 

" And thou wert not terrified ?" asked Andrea, 
with interest. 

" My mortal heart may have trembled," acknow- 
ledged the prisoner, " but my spirit was the 
stronger for the sight, through favour of my good 
Lord. And I tell thee, noble captain, that should 
the good Lord vouchsafe to thee, even to thyself, 
the same grace, and put into thy soul his ardent 
love, thou couldst give up all for him, as the Lu- 
therans do, and even walk to death with a glad 

"Thou art right, Filippo; 'tis a sort of mad- 
ness," observed D'Agnolo, after a pause, during 
which he surveyed the student attentively. " Yet 
there is no wildness in his words, except their 
wild meaning. Hark ye, messer, a word of coun- 
sel. Be not so open-mouthed before the holy 
fathers, or the stake of Nicolas may be thine." 

Here the person in a civic dress, who had fol- 
lowed them at a distance in the streets, and had 
eavesdropped at Ursula's threshold, entered the 
guard-room and made some whispered communi- 
cation to its officer. 


i( Amieo mio, thou hast some little way farther 
to walk/' D'Agnolo observed to his prisoner when 
the messenger was gone. " I would fain keep thee 
here all night, but it may not be. Nevertheless, 
I'll give thee a friend's advice : throw heresy to 
the dogSj^ome out into the world and amuse thy- 
self as a young man should. Though thou didst 
do me an evil turn about the lady, I wish thee no 
ill, and should be sorry to think thou wert food 
for faggots." 

" Worthy captain, my life is dear to me ; but 
one thing is dearer still my Saviour ; and I dare 
not, I cannot deny him. Perchance the charge 
against me may not affect life. I know not what 
I have done, nor wherefore I am thus haled to 
prison. I thank thee for thy kindness." 

" Thank me not," growled D'Agnolo. " If thou 
carest not for thyself, who else should care ?" 

Francesco was considerably relieved to find that 
his guard stopped not before the Dominican con- 
vent, where the Holy Office of the Inquisition held 
tribunal, but before the common prison of Locarno. 



'HE word "prison/' though still a sound of 
sufficient dread and discomfort, means some- 
thing very different with us Britons of the 
nineteenth century from what it meant in the ears 
of Italians of the sixteenth. We erect large, airy 
edifices for our criminals, paying due attention to 
health as well as to safe- keeping; but the jails of 
olden time were regarded simply as lock-up places, 
and provided the walls were thick and the dun- 
geons deep, the prisoners might die from foul air, 
or starve from scanty food, or perish wholesale 
from disease, without the free world outside 
troubling itself at all on the matter. 

Francesco Altieri knew pretty well what he had 
to expect in the common prison of Locarno. A 
wide, low, vaulted chamber, with matted masses 
of straw in the corners and along the sides where 
the damp floor and damp walls met, each of these 
pallets occupied by one or two prisoners, so that a 
perfect fringe of heads raised themselves to look at 



the new arrival ; an atmosphere of the foulest, for 
a grating in the massive door and a slit in the six- 
foot-thick masonry at one end were all the access 
to outer air. 

" You'll find some of your kin there before you/' 
remarked the jailer, with a hoarse laugh. " We're 
accustomed to heretic guests of late ;" and the door 
swung back into its socket with the dull, heavy 
collapse of exceeding strength. 

u Altieri, my friend, is it thou?" and a person 
who had been sitting apart on a stone bench rose 
and clasped his hand. " I grieve to see thee here, 
although it is for conscience' sake, I hoped 
thou haclst made good thy retreat with the exiles." 

" I had wellnigh done so, but returned on 
business of my patron's," answered the Paduan 
student, trying to make out the other's face by the 
dim light of the oil lamp, which flung a pattern 
of the grating on the floor from the passage 

"Thou dost not remember yet, signer, thou 
mightest recall the dyer Ottoboni, who refused to 
have his child baptized after the Roman manner, 
with chrism, and cross, and whom the deputies of 
the seven cantons amerced in a heavy fine, enough 
to ruin an honest man ?" 

IN A CELL. 107 

" Forgive me," said Francesco, grasping his hand 
afresh. " Methought I knew the voice, but could 
not recall the name. I have seen thee in the Lu- 
theran meetings at the Signora di Montalto's. I 
should have better known thee, my brother in the 

They seated themselves on the stone bench by 
the entrance and conversed in low tones. Both 
were cheered by this unexpected meeting ; for the 
poor dyer's mind had been growing more and more 
rancorous against the persecutors who had robbed 
him of his livelihood and ruined his humble busi- 
ness ; he was in danger of totally forgetting the 
precepts of Christian charity. Perhaps the meek- 
est of us would do likewise in like case. And 
Francesco was the better for seeing one in worse, 
estate than himself one who had wife and chil- 
dren depending on him, whose lives as well as his 
own were blighted by this tyranny. 

u A plague on you for pestilent heretics !" 
growled the occupant of the nearest pallet ; " you 
will not let a good Christian sleep with your prat- 
ing ! If I had but my trusty poniard and the use 
of my sword-arm, I would soon have you silent 
enough !" 

Francesco turned round. He was young and 


of gentle blood, and his heart was hot ; he could 
not trust himself to speak for a few moments. 
Then he said, gently, 

" Friend, thy poniard is not needed : we can hold 
our peace without it." He leaned back his proud 
head against the massive, rough stones of the 
prison, and choked down the resentment which had 
surged into his feelings with difficulty enough. 
Presently the soothing came : across his memory 
glided those words concerning his Saviour, 

" II quale, oltraggiato, non oltraggiava all'in- 
contro; patendo, uon minacciava" "Who, when 
he was reviled, reviled not again ; suffering, he 
threatened not." 

Francesco could not but be calm in presence of 
that great Exemplar. As for poor Ottoboni, his 
spirit was broken by his month of captivity, dur- 
ing which he had been the pariah among the or- 
thodox criminals who had only transgressed the 
laws of God and of the state, while his unpardon- 
able offence was, that he had transgressed the laws 
of the Church. 

A heavy groan from that neighbouring pallet 
more than once disturbed the slight, uneasy slumber 
into which the Paduan student fell further in the 
night. A groan and the unquiet plunge of great 

IX A CELL. 109 

restless limbs, and by the dim oil light which 
gleamed through the grating he could just see the 
outline of a long, stalwart figure flung on the straw, 
with one arm apparently bound up. 

" A brigand, brought in yesterday," whispered 
Ottoboni. " He suffered from a sore wound in his 
right arm, received in his capture, as well as an- 
other on his head ; and he is a very savage, as thou 
heardest a while since. They say he had un- 
counted murders on his soul : he was the terror of 
the passes to the Milanese.' 7 

" Poor wretch !" But remorse had no part in 
his disquietude ; it proceeded simply from physical 
pain and impatience. Ere long his inarticulate 
moans passed into very articulate imprecations. 

"Friend," said Francesco, "I am a leech, and 
might perchance be able to relieve thy pain if the 
wounds want dressing and a light could be had." 

"No!" exclaimed the other, with an oath; "no 
heretic hand shall touch my bandages, laid on with 
holy hands. Because of thy hateful presence is 
the blessed charm unavailing doubtless." 

Francesco was sufficiently versed in the popular 
medical practice of the lower classes to be aware 
that the charm alluded to consisted of three pieces 
of old linen steeped in holy water, and bound on 


the wound in shape of a cross. At the time of ap- 
plication no weapons should be about the patient, 
and he should repeat three paters and three aves 
by heart: if unable to do so, somebody must say 
them on his behalf a salve of most singular 
efficacy when used in faith ! 

Whether the brigand had not sufficient faith, or 
there had been some error in the performance of 
the rite, his wounds were none the easier when 
morning light stole in through the deep loophole 
at the end of the vault. Gradually the haggard 
faces and forms of the prisoners came in view, 
long after the outer world had been glorified with 
full day. 

"And now, friend," said Francesco, after some 
struggle with himself whether he should again 
proffer his rejected kindness, "I might be able to 
do thy wounds a service." 

The sufferer replied not; and taking the silence 
for assent, the young surgeon laid bare the brawny 
arm, where a sword thrust had passed through the 
muscles and severed much of the flesh; he washed 
it in water procured from the jailer, and bound it 
up afresh in linen torn from his own sleeve. Like- 
wise to the wound on the head, cutting away the 
close-curling hair from its edges. 


" And pray to thy God, poor man, instead of 
cursing thy fellows and thyself: pray to him to 
forgive thy sins, and to heal the sore wounds of thy 
soul as well as of thy body. For be assured that 
this is but a slight torment to that which will 
overtake thee if thou continuest in sin arid re- 
pentest not, that thou mayest be saved. 7 ' 

"Chut!" exclaimed the wounded man, "an in- 
dulgence will settle all that for me comfortably. 
Ten golden crowns will buy me a free pass through 
the gates of heaven, praise to our Lady!" 

"And thinkest thou the Most High, who hath 
created the mines of silver and gold in the bowels 
of the hills, can be tempted with thy poor offering 
of coin? No, my friend, he hath given power to 
no man to admit sinners into heaven. He will 
not have heaven bought, but he giveth it freely 
to all who repent through his dear Son." 

"And it seemeth to me that were thy doctrine 
right, our holy father the Pope would have but a 
beggarly exchequer!" observed a man who leaned 
against the wall at the head of the pallet, and had 
narrowly watched the binding of the wounds. 
"Thy doctrine will never find favour among the 
great ones, good sir, and will only get thine own 
skin into danger. If our good friars didn't empty 


the people's purses to their own advantage by 
masses and indulgences, and such like holy ware, 
the blessed men would be reduced to work them- 
selves don't you see?" 

Francesco looked inquiringly at the speaker of 
these free-thinking words, who immediately added, 
with a cunning laugh, "But I'm a good Catholic 
all the time, you know: I'd kiss his Holiness' toe 
with anybody, d'ye see?" 

"And what when you come to die, friend?" asked 
the student. 

The prison-door was flung wide, and a rush of 
the purer air without hurried to replace the ex- 
hausted and foul atmosphere within. Standing on 
the threshold, the commandant of the town-guard 
required to see Francesco Altieri, who soon learned 
that he was to go in his custody to the Dominican 
convent, where the Holy Office at that time held 
court, and fetters were placed upon his hands. 

"Fare thee well,. brother; God strengthen thee 
God bring thee safe through !" and the poor dyer 
embraced the gentiluomo to whom at another time 
he would doff his cap obsequiously. But in com- 
munity of faith and of suffering all social distinc- 
tion between the physician and the artisan van- 
ished. "God be with thee, good Ottoboni !" and 

IN A CELL. 113 

Francesco felt as if he had left the last friendly 
face. He passed the prisoner's wife and child in 
the courtyard, bringing to him some meagre fare, 
yet better than the jailer was authorized to pro- 
vide; and the innocent babe, unwitting occasion 
of its father's ruin, woke in its mother's arms from 
the noisy tramp of the guards and wept. 

Francesco had been in the Dominican convent 
before now to attend an ailing monk ; the massy 
gloom of its apartments was therefore no novelty 
to him. The hall where Riverda had endeavoured 
to argue the Lutheran matrons from their faith 
was changed into a sort of tribunal : two velvet 
chairs were set on the dais for the inquisitors, and 
two secretaries sat at ends of a table before them. 
But the proceedings to-day were merely prelimi- 
nary : Francesco was asked a few questions about 
name, residence and such indifferent matters, and 
presently remanded. 

" But, most holy fathers, I would fain know the 
charge against me," he remonstrated : " I would 
fain know whereof I am accused, that I may clear 

The chief inquisitor waved his hand impa- 
tiently, and two monks grasped each an arm of the 
prisoner. u I warn thee and all," exclaimed 


Francesco, standing still for a moment by main 
force, " that I am no subject of the cantons I 
claim the protection of the Venetian Republic I 
was born under the Lion of St. Mark." 

" That may not much avail thee," observed the 
second inquisitor, with a sarcastic smile; "for 
know that the Holy Office regardeth not race nor 
nation, being established above all civil power by 
the ordinance of our holy father, Pope Paul the 

The prisoner was hurried away into the under- 
ground vaults of the convent, where monks were 
sometimes sent for discipline of fasting and seclu- 
sion. He was barred into a cell of narrow dimen- 
sions, and heard the footsteps of his guards die 
away along the dark passage they had come. 

What a silence when that sound had passed ! 
No greater silence could be if he was buried. 
Was any living thing in the cells he had seen 
near? He hoped so. But the mighty masonry 
would intercept the loudest voice. By and by, 
when the chafing of his spirit had worn off and 
his thoughts grew more calm, that silence came 
upon him more oppressively. He began to calcu- 
late how far he was from the other inmates of the 
convent, tracing his steps back as well as he could 


remember the labyrinth of passages and stairways 
he had come. Ha ! something moved across that 
slit in the wall, far above his head, on which his 
eyes were fixed with the craving which they have 
for light ; something moved ! Francesco sprang to 
his feet, and watched intently. Again ! and only 
a green leaf blown by the fragrant breeze, yet it 
shed a gladness on his heart which was to himself 
inexplicable. It was a stepping-stone for his 
thoughts to the outer world, from which he had 
begun to feel himself so hopelessly immured. 
Whither did that slit look out? On trees and 
grass above ground, certainly ; and though he had 
not been many hours removed from the sight of 
those common things, he felt an uncontrollable de- 
sire to gaze at them again. He examined the pro- 
jections of the rough stonework for a means to 
climb ; but what madness ! were not fetters on 
his hands ? 

He threw himself on the thin mattrass which 
was his bed, and groaned. The clanking irons on 
his wrists, fastened together by a short chain, 
seemed a pledge of imprisonment " forte et dure." 
His own helplessness irritated him. But he knew 
of the unfailing refuge for this and all other ills. 
He betook himself to prayer : " My Father ! my 


Father ! have I faint heart already ? Can I not 
watch even one hour with thee? Shall I, on 
this my first day of suffering for thy sake, chafe 
against the discipline thou permittest me ? Forbid 
it, Lord! I am very weak! Oh strengthen me!" 
In many ejaculations like these he wrestled against 
the adversary who would tempt him to repine. 

Days passed over, and, except the lay-brother 
who brought him food and water once in the 
twenty-four hours, he saw no one nor heard any 
voice. The want of events made the time seem 
intolerably long, and he found but one subject of 
thought ever fresh, perennially new but one topic 
which did not pall nor wear out the thought of 
his Saviour. At times one verse of the Scriptures 
stored in his memory would stand out before him 
as if illuminated within and without with Heaven's 
own light; as if some angel painted each word 
with brilliant colouring of celestial dyes. He 
would lie rapt in spirit before that many-sided 
truth, and wonder how he had never before seen 
its splendour. 

O Divine and Holy Ghost, rightly art thou 
named the Comforter ! In many a wretched gar- 
ret, devoid of all earth's delights, thou art now 
working this miracle of consolation, as in martyrs' 

IN A CELL. 117 

cells of old ! Thou showest of the things of 
Christ ; and a glimpse at this treasury of heaven 
is enough to outbalance all the felicity of worldly 

Eeader, do you feel this true ? or does it seem 
an enthusiasm without parallel in your experience ? 
If so, pray to God to visit you with the glorious 

Looking back to the Dominican prison in after- 
times, Francesco could not say that he had been 
ever intolerably unhappy, even in his worst hours ; 
and he could recall many a season of exquisite 
spiritual enjoyment. He knew that there he had 
been very near to God, which is the soul's bliss. 



NE night torches came along the subterranean 
passage, and the door of Francesco's cell was 
unbarred. He had been sleeping tranquilly. 
The sudden entrance and flare of light startled 
him to his feet. The next instant two stout 
monks had him in convoy, as on the previous oc- 
casion. Hardly were the prisoner's faculties fully 
collected, when he found himself in a large, vaulted 
apartment, and sitting on a block, to which the 
fetters on his wrists were quickly fastened by an- 
other short chain. 

The two inquisitors whom he had seen before, 
being the Dominicans who had come with the nun- 
cio Riverda, and who stayed after his departure to 
finish the work of heretic extirpation which that 
worthy bishop had begun, were seated on " the 
throne of judgment 57 in front of the prisoner. 
Their iron-like faces, wherein appeared no feature 
capable of change or of motion, save their cold 
eyes, would indeed chill a heart more sanguine than 



Francesco's. Some large, low object at the side of 
the room was covered with a dark cloth. The 
glances of the accused turned uneasily thither. A 
shudder ran through his frame at the premonition 
that underneath was stretched the hideous ma- 
chinery of the rack. 

The inquisitors, skilled in human emotions, 
noted that slight shudder as a key to operations. 
Presently the examination began. A deposition 
from some unknown witness was read, narrating 
Francesco's conversation at the bedsjde of the old 
relic-vender on the night of his arrest, and con- 
siderably exaggerating his alleged heretical state- 
ments. And he was asked what he had to say in 

" That much of it is false," was the impetuous 
reply. " That is, false as to the fact of my utter- 
ance on the occasion referred to ; not false as to " 
he hesitated, remembering that he was in nowise 
bound to criminate himself by too open confession 
of his opinions in the very teeth of the inquisitors. 

" Go on, my son," said the elder Dominican, in 
a wheedling tone. 

" I demand to be confronted with my accusers," 
exclaimed Francesco. 

" 'Tis not the usage of the Holy Office," coldly 


replied the judge. " But to what in this testimony 
dost thou plead guilty ?" he added insidiously. 

" I say not that I am guilty of aught," an- 
swered the prisoner. " Guilt is a word pertaining 
to crime, and I have committed no crime. Bring 
forward my accusers, holy father; let them meet 
me face to face, and testify boldly as to what I have 
said or done that is deserving of punishment." 

" Thou art contumacious, my son ; yet will I 
bear with thee a little/ 7 said the chief inquisitor. 
" Know, then, that thou art charged with holding 
Lutheran tenets, to the denying of the blessed 
sacrament of auricular confession, and also to the 
contempt of prayers addressed to the holy saints, 
whose intercession availeth much with the most 
high God. Thou art charged with disseminating 
these pestilent heresies on more than one occasion." 

" My father, I would crave you to name the cir- 
cumstances." Francesco waited a few minutes to 
collect his thoughts and decide on his reply. He 
was sorely tempted to evade a full declaration of 
his faith. Which of us, with the rack two yards 
away, and unscrupulous hands ready to stretch the 
victims thereupon, would not be assailed with 
similar temptation? The prisoner's glance was 
troubled and fixed upon the ground. Earthly 


probabilities, earthly hopes, weighed with him and 
curbed down his soul. 

" Take thy choice, my son, between recantation 
and punishment. The Church is most merciful to 
those who will return to her embrace," were fur- 
ther words of the inquisitor. " She desireth not 
the death of a sinner, as saith Holy Scripture. 
And if thou wilt not recant, my son, I would be 
loth to put thee to the torture." 

" Father, you are taking my heresy for granted," 
said the prisoner. " Now I affirm that I am no 
heretic, but a true follower of Christ our Saviour, 
and an unworthy member of his most holy Church." 

'' Subterfuge !" exclaimed the inquisitor, almost 
angrily. " Thou canst not deny that thou de- 
spisest the sacrament of confession, and blasphem- 
ously castest slanders on the power of the most 
blessed saints. But I will .speedily put thee to 
the test." He drew over to him some papers, and 
after a momentary looking among them, read the 
following query : 

" Dost thou believe, that after the sacramental 
words have been pronounced by the priest at mass, 
after he has said the holy formula, ' Hoc est corpus 
meum/ the body of Christ is truly and indeed 
present in the host ?" 


The prisoner paused for a moment. All the 
consequences of speaking the truth rushed before 
him, yet nothing seemed so utterly impossible as 
the utterance of the lie which might have freed 
him. Only a word ! only to say that he did be- 
lieve ! but for worlds he could not stain his soul 
with that falsehood. Still human nature shrank 
on the verge of the avowal. 

" Well, my son, we await your answer," said the 
oily voice of the chief inquisitor. " Do you be- 
lieve that the body of Christ is carnally and in- 
deed present in the consecrated host ?" 

Francesco raised his head, and a light glowed 
in the previously deadened eyes : " Christ's body 
is in heaven, whither he hath ascended to sit upon 
the right hand of God. And the pope and all his 
cardinals could not bring him down until he come 
to judge the quick and the dead. Yet I believe 
in his presence to all his faithful people." 

" The Zwinglian heresy perfected !" remarked 
one of the judges to the other. " Even the accursed 
Luther hath not dared to go so far as this. It was 
reserved for a son of Switzerland to cap the climax 
of heretical doctrine by denying the divinity of the 
blessed eucharist. Thou needst say no more," he 
continued, addressing the prisoner; "thine own 


lips have condemned thee. The only question now 
is, Wilt thou recant ?" 

" Father, if I am expected to declare that I 
believe what I do not believe, my conscience to- 
ward God will not allow of falsehood. But if you 
can show me that the doctrine of Christ's real 
presence in the mass is taught in Holy Scripture, I 
am ready to be convinced, and shall gladly be re- 
conciled to the Catholic Church on that point." 

Now be it observed that a secretary was taking 
copious notes of every word spoken on either side. 
. " We have no time for controversy with obstinate 
heretics," began the younger inquisitor ; but the 
elder interposed. 

" Out of compassion for thy youth, which may 
have led thee astray, I will endeavour to enlighten 
thee. Thou deniest the doctrine of the mass as a 
sacrifice for the living and the dead ? Then 
hearken. In the Pentateuch itself is this truth 
taught ; for what signifieth the Hebrew l massah/ 
to concentrate, whence corneth the very name ' mass/ 
the name of a holy sacrifice appointed by God?"* 

* This identical argument was put forward by Antoine 
Poussevin, ecclesiastical commissioner among the Vaudois in 
the valley of Lucerne, during the year 1560 ; and was con- 
sidered most convincing by the already orthodox. 


Francesco Altieri had dabbled in other studies 
besides those of medicine, and even his small 
knowledge of the Hebrew tongue enabled him to 
see the fallacy of the translation sought to be 
fastened on the word " massah." 

" I have read portions of Holy Scripture in the 
original tongues, my father/' he said with deference, 
and suppressing the smile in which he could have 
indulged. " I do not remember where that word 
beareth the sense you would put upon it. But surely 
there are other passages where the repetition of the 
Redeemer's death, as an efficient sacrifice, and the 
adoration of the host, are set forth? I would 
crave instruction." 

The prisoner could not wholly stifle the perilous, 
mocking spirit which was evoked by the Domini- 
can's lame argument. 

" Though young in years, we perceive that thou 
art old in heresy," observed the chief inquisitor. 
" We must try other means of taming thy spirit." 

A slight gesture of his head, and the attendants 
drew the cloth from the face of the rack, revealing 
the cruel apparatus of pulleys and cords across that 
dismal oblong frame. Here had poor Nicolas lain 
to be drawn asunder by torture. Now was he 
receiving his reward in the martyr's heaven ! 


Francesco, at that sight, kneeled down, with diffi- 
culty by reason of his chains, and besought his 
Master to help him to witness for his truth. What 
intensity of prayer was compressed into those mo- 
ments ! Face between the fettered hands bowed 
down, he heard not the clink of iron handles fixing 
into the transverse bars, nor saw the lay-brethren 
fling off their serge gowns for greater freedom of 
action. All he knew was that the crisis of his 
faith had come, and he had need of divine strength 
that he might not be found wanting. 

The chain was unfastened ; his wrists were sore 
from the weight of the heavy irons. A strange 
sensation of lightness and freedom to be without 
those fetters ! But it was momentary ; his hands 
were bound behind him. Then his torture was not 
to be the rack, after all ? 

Inquisitorial mercy has provided grades of tor- 
ment for its victims. Step by step are they 
inducted into the arcana of physical anguish. 
Agony is dealt out in drops, diluted less and less 
according to the endurance. The opening scene 
was generally an attempt to discolate the prisoner's 
limbs a trifling inconvenience when compared 
with the roasting of his feet over a brazier of 
glowing charcoal, which was a more advanced 


stage, worthily occupying the next station to burn- 
ing alive. 

And so Francesco Altieri was suspended by a 
rope to a pillar; which rope being suddenly let 
slip, he fell down violently to within a short dis- 
tance of the ground, every muscle of his joints 
strained by the jolt. Setting his teeth firmly, he 
did not even moan, though every limb ached 
sharply. Two or three performances of this dis- 
locating jerk qualified him for promotion to the 
deeper anguish of the rack. 

He could never tell afterward how long he had 
been lying there, how long the pulleys and straps 
were straining fiercely at his limbs, worked by 
strong men till the sweat ran down their faces. 
All sense of time, all consciousness, was swallowed 
up soon in excess of suffering. They asked him 
questions, but he remained resolutely silent, except 
for the groans and exclamations forced from him 
at every fresh strain of the ghastly machinery. 
At last the chief inquisitor commanded the pres- 
sure to be relieved for a few moments. 

" My son, our hearts bleed to see thee obstinate. 
One little word, and thy torture ceases! Dost 
thou recant ?" 

" O Saviour, aid thy poor servant not to 


deny thy truth !" was the sufferer's feebly spoken 

The Dominican's face darkened, and he signed for 
the assistants to proceed, leaving the subterranean 
chamber himself immediately. The powerless had 
baffled the powerful. 

Before the cords had tightened by more than an 
additional turn of the screws, Francesco had 



Of SLOW, heavy dawning of consciousness, as in 
LI the gradual withdrawal of some terrific 
^j ^ dream, which has filled hours with perplexed 
involutions of misfortune, and the Paduan student 
opened his weary eyes. Pain pain all over and 
the utterest exhaustion ; these were his waking 
sensations, when. Avith a long-drawn breath, the 
swoon passed. 

No longer on the rack, nor in the subterranean 
vault, lit by swinging, smoky oil-lamps shedding 
radiance on hard faces dealing out torture. He 
was alone in his old cell, with early daylight 
streaming through the loophole, and the blessed air 
blowing in upon his fevered head. 

The old cell ! but could he have seen himself 
as he lay there, and compared himself with the 
Francesco Altieri who had issued thence on the 
previous night, lie would scarce have recognized 
his own form. Gaunt and haggard, with lines fur- 
rowed on his face, which might have been the work 



of five years' hardship or of five months' illness; 
every nerve flaccid and unstrung, every sinew dis- 
tended, till his body was one huge bruised sprain, 
and to move was a fresh anguish, he could only lie 
still and endure passively. 

Sleep, or an unconsciousness, came at intervals. 
Toward midday he, roused with a great thirst upon 
him, perceived that an earthen jar had been left 
within his reach ; and when he had grasped it with 
infinite pains, he drank copiously of the water. 
After that his brain was clearer. The sort of dull 
submissiveness of devotion which had lain in his 
spirit became more active ; he was able to pray 
and to think. 

Many days passed before he~could stand without 
support. He anticipated that another visit to the 
torture-chamber was preparing for him, but the 
lay-brother, who was his sole jailer, came morning 
after morning with his food, as dumb as though he 
could not hear when the prisoner spoke ; and no 
one else ever came. When the last bolt had shot 
into its sheath, and the sandalled feet trod away 
in the passage, Francesco might reckon upon 
total silence, except for vesper and matin bells, 
until the same hour next day. Sometimes he ang 
aloud himself, to break that incubus from his 



heart. Then he would get rapt in the hymn, and 
fancy his voice joining the Church triumphant, even 
through dense walls and from this living grave. 

But how long was it to last ? Had they indeed 
sentenced him to solitary confinement for life ? 
He shuddered at the thought of years lapsing 
through that cell of his head growing old and 
gray in its murky shadows. Intolerable ! The 
fiery death would be more easily borne than such 
living burial. Thus, as he received bodily 
strength, the stagnation of this existence began to 
corrode his spirit. 

That paltry incident, the leaf blowing across the 
loophole he had recognized it as an ivy-leaf by 
this time, and guessed that the wall was grown 
over outside he would watch for, lying on his 
pallet, with an interest for which he almost de- 
spised himself. He had no fetters on his hands 
now, and so essayed to climb by the rough ma- 
sonry to the opening as soon as he was strong 
enough. By picking out the mortar, tediously, 
for it was wellnigh as hard as the stones it 
cemented, he widened niches for his feet and 
fingers. Oh joy ! when at last one evening he 
grasped a bar across that window-slit, and saw 
a glimpse at the outer earth again ! 


Into a garden the loophole looked ; for grass 
was level with his eye, and trunks of trees close 
by olives, he knew by their gnarled and tortuous 
outlines. Dead gray wall shut in the enclosure, 
but brilliant sunshine lay upon that grassy ex- 
panse for some time every day, till the shadows of 
unseen buildings stole across it. Francesco could 
soon have constructed a dial by the regular march- 
ings of their shade; and the bell-tower of the con- 
vent was sketched in variable slopes of profile, 
continuing to lie there sometimes when the night 
air was full of moonlight. 

Once a monk came to read his hours while 
walking under the dead gray wall. Without 
thinking of consequences, Francesco called aloud 
in his first gladness at beholding an accessible 
human being, whereupon the good friar paused, 
looked round, and up and down, seeming to wait 
for a repetition, which the prisoner was wise 
enough to withhold. Fra Domenico crossed him- 
self piously, uttered a short exorcism against all 
things evil, and took his hours elsewhere for 
completion. Shortly afterward a pair of monks 
entered the little garden, looked down and up and 
about with the same sort of gesture, whispering 
each other ominously. Francesco could scarce re- 


frain from scaring their superstitions with another 
cry. But the risk was too great. If his stolen 
outlook were discovered, he would certainly be 
consigned to a still more lonely cell. 

The prior's private garden had thenceforth an 
uncanny reputation; the hardiest monks ventured 
not within its precincts after vespers, and even in 
the noonday none cared to read his breviary there 
alone. Fra Domenico would tell the tale of that 
strange cry to the novices, in recreation-time, with 
various imaginative interpellations, which soon 
grew into historical facts. It is so hard to avoid 
being a hero when one tells one's own tale ! 

But even the view from his loophole had palled 
upon poor Francesco ere long. He implored his 
dumb servitor for a book for writing materials 
anything to employ himself. He might as well 
have petitioned one of the stalwart qlives outside. 
The lay-brother made as though he heard not. A 
terrible torture is utter idleness and hopelessness ! 

The Christian can never be hopeless, never with- 
out resource. He has a personal Friend whom no 
bars and bolts can shut out, no banishment dis- 
tance. Francesco was thrown more upon his 
spiritual relationships by this long isolation. God 
the Father above him God the Redeemer beside 


him God the Spirit within him. When he was 
enabled to realize this, the meagre cell became a 
chamber of delights. And he knew that even in 
the present evil world the Lord of hosts has given 
them that love him such good things as pass carnal 
man's understanding such good things as merely 
mortal eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard. 

Two months had probably passed from the day 
that he had last crossed the threshold, when again 
the torches flared into his cell at midnight, and he 
was Brought forth once more. Steeling his nerves 
for anticipated suffering, he entered the torture 
chamber the hall of judgment in inquisitorial 

The Dominicans who had previously examined 
him were not present. In their stead sat the prior 
of the convent. A record of the foregoing process 
was read, and the prisoner was asked whether he 
assented to its truth. 

On his reply in the affirmative, the prior took 
up another paper and read aloud the sentence of 
the Holy Office : That whereas the accused, Fran- 
cesco Altieri, had confessed the heretical principles 
laid to his charge by several credible witnesses, 
and having been put to the question, had signified 
his desire of being reconciled to the Holy Catholic 


Church, thereby virtually recanting the aforesaid 
heresies, the court of the Congregation of the Holy 
Office of its clemency decreed that the extreme 
punishment to be inflicted on the said Francesco 
Altieri, graduate in medicine of the University of 
Padua, was confiscation of goods and perpetual 
banishment from the Locarnese and the seven can- 
tons, adding the usual threat of the penalty of 
death should he return. 

One throb of delight in the prisoner's heart; 
the next instant he was grave as though stepping to 
the rack instead of regaining liberty : 

" Father they have misunderstood I did not re- 
cant, I never meant to recant. The words I spoke 
cannot bear that interpretation." 

The prior, a former acquaintance of Altieri's, 
had left his elevated seat immediately on the dec- 
laration of the sentence, and with it quite put off 
his official manner. Inquisitors' work was very 
distasteful to his easy, indulgent nature, and he 
hated the arrears of such business left him by the 
Roman doctors. 

" We are not here to judge thee, but to pro- 
nounce a sentence previously concluded on, my 
son," he said, blandly enough. " 'Tis a mistake, 
if there be one, for which thou shouldest be thank- 


ful, and bless our Lady, instead of pecking at thy 
good fortune. And if thou art so ambitious to be 
a martyr, there will be fires enow in all Italy soon, 
for his holiness Pope Paul the Fourth has been 
grand inquisitor himself, and likes the trade." 

"What, Cardinal Caraffa pope!" exclaimed the 
prisoner, eagerly. "He who was once of 'the 
Oratory of Divine Love 7 once a Reformer ?" 

" Even so," quoth the prior, dryly. " And now, 
my son, I counsel thee to withdraw thyself from 
reach of the same Holy Office. A boat waits to 
take thee from this bailiwick into neutral soil. 
Thou didst once do me a service in curing for me 
a troublesome pleurisy, therefore I wish thee well, 
and did speak on thy behalf to the Roman inquis- 
itor. Buon viaggio, my son;" and the good- 
natured monk moved away, waving a benediction. 

That piece of political news, the election of a 
fresh pope, turned the current of Francesco's feel- 
ings wonderfully. The great surging world of 
living beings, from whom he had been so long cut 
off, suddenly arose again before his eyes, and the 
young blood pulsed quicker at thought of its 
struggles, its ambitions, its countless interlacing 
interests. He shook the slough of the prison from 
his heart. Oh how fresh was the open air ! how 


glittering the, silver stars ! how beautiful even the 
night earth, on which he had not looked for so 
long a time! Andrea d'Agnolo and a couple of 
his "free lances" were at the monastery gate to 
convoy the banished to the water's edge. 

" Methinks thou hast learned some sharp lessons 
since we spoke together in the guard-room, good 
friend/' said the trooper, when he recognized his 
charge. " What sayest thou, Filippo ? Is he not 
taller than his wont taller by an inch or two of 
the rack?" The soldier appealed to laughed 
gratingly, and signified assent* " I hope thou art 
a cured case of heresy now," continued Andrea, 
"and wilt give these merciful priests no more 
trouble. Indeed, unless thou wert, thou wouldst 
scarce be walking toward freedom now." 

" Friend," began the prisoner, " if thou meanest 
that I have grown tired of my faith, or have found 
it not worth the suffering for, thou art mistaken. 
Christ's soldiers do not desert his colours so ; they 
love their general too well." 

" I never shall understand it never," replied 
the trooper. " Why men who might lead an easy 
life persist in leading a hard and painful life, and 
not only cut themselves off every enjoyment for 
wine and dice find no favour among you 'Oltra- 


montani' but also run the risk of rack and stake 
for what ? an idea, a thing they neither hear nor 
see. Andrea d'Agnolo cannot fathom it." 

Did not Francesco remember that prophecy of 
the far-seeing apostle's " The preaching of the 
cross is to them that perish foolishness ; but unto 
us which are saved it is the power of God. The 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit 
of God : for they are foolishness unto him ; neither 
can he know them, because they are spiritually 
discerned' 7 ? 

And if any should glance upon this page who 
exult in the pride of intellect as the bright, keen 
weapon to cut the Gordian knot of theology, and 
rather despise the simple, unquestioning faith of 
the unlettered or the thoroughly submissive Chris- 
tian, beware lest this be foolishness to your wis- 
dom, only because you are one of those that 
perish ! 

" My friend," said Francesco, " suppose thou 
wert sentenced to a sore punishment for some 
crime, and one came forward who was innocent, 
to bear the suffering for thee, simply because he 
loved thee, and would not have thee suffer : 
wouldst thou not love that person evermore? 
wouldst thou not hold by him for thy life long ?" 


" Find me the friend first/' said the trooper, in- 
credulously. " Most men love themselves better 
than anybody else." 

" I found such a friend, once ; and shall I join 
his enemies who dishonour him ? Never ! More- 
over he hath done for thee what he hath done for 
me, taken all the punishment due for thy sins and 
borne it on the cross, to which his blessed limbs 
were nailed by unholy hands : he hath done this 
for thee, and thou canst never be condemned so 
thou but believe." 

"Thou mightest be a preaching friar, messer, 
thou speakest with such unction," carelessly re- 
plied the trooper. " Meanwhile, here we are at the 
boat : Filippo, see this good gentleman safe out of 
the bailiwick, and let him have converse with none 
while in thy custody. Fair voyage, my excellent 
sir ; felicissima notte." Trolling a stave of a sol- 
dier's song, the condottiero disappeared in the 



JULL a fortnight after Francesco Altieri had 
been landed on the opposite shore of the Lago 
j Maggiore to make his way as best he could 
without, money or friends in a strange country, he 
found, himself travelling through the Grison Alps, 
staff in hand, toward the exiles' refuge at Zurich. 
For he had learned at Rogoreto that after a forced 
sojourn of two months, on account of the con- 
tinuance of snow and ice in the defiles beyond, the 
majority of the Locarnese had set forward, upon 
the earliest May thaw, and reached the canton of 
Zurich, which had hospitably offered them an 

This latest exile was now treading in their foot- 
steps across the savage mountain passes, which are 
the sole avenues into Switzerland from Italy He 
had gone through the Bernardin Pass, and was 
now approaching that most sublime of Alpine de- 
files the Splugen. 



Engineering has made all transits easy, now-a- 
days, and well nigh completely subjugated the 
world of matter to the world of motion. The 
traveller may drive in his carriage from end to 
end of the tremendous gorge of the Via Mala, the 
core of the Splugen ; and from his cushions and 
comforters leisurely survey the overwhelming sub- 
limity of precipice and snow-peak. But our poor 
exiled student's journey was made before smooth 
parapeted roads had been carved along the sides 
of the stupendous rift a thousand feet above the 
raging young Rhine. He was obliged to scale 
crags and skirt chasms, and leap torrents, and other- 
wise comport himself, with an agility which would 
puzzle our modern traveller in a London-built 
britska : he had certain advantages over that com- 
fortable traveller nevertheless ; for he could pause 
when he pleased, and he could select the finest 
points of view, had he been so minded, and stand 
still while the grandeur of nature entered and 
elevated his very soul. 

Those precipices might be sixteen hundred feet 
high in some places : and down in their black 
depths thundered the aforesaid impatient Rhine, 
flashing whitely in cascades or plunging furiously 
athwart fathomless pools. Dark forests of fir 


climbed the lower slopes and shelves of the split 
mountains wherever foot of tree could plant itself; 
sturdy large-limbed firs, accustomed to wrestling 
with tempests. And some of them in that wrest- 
ling had succumbed, and lay prostrate, flung down 
by strong invisible arms of the winds ; others stood 
blasted on inaccessible heights, as if proving that 
the loftiest position is also the most perilous. 

Francesco had never imagined anything more 
grand than this gorge. His heart expanded under 
a sense of the exceeding great power of his God, 
the Creator of " the strength of the hills." Stand- 
ing on the edge of the vast rift, while the surging 
of the imprisoned river came almost faintly from 
the far depths, he opened his lips in a song of 
praise. It was one of the hymns written by An- 
tonio Brucioli, translator of the earliest Italian 
Bible from the Hebrew and Greek : a man not pro- 
fessedly Lutheran, yet persecuted as such ; and his 
works ranked among prohibited books of the first 
class, by the Index Expurgatorius of the Council 
of Trent. 

What was Francesco's astonishment, as he paused 
after the first verse, to hear it taken up and re- 
peated by some unknown voice not far distant ! 
Echo was his first idea, but rejected instantly: 


what echo could recite four lines of a hymn, with 
all variations of tune? Some Lutheran traveller 
like himself; and he peered about unavailing!} 7 , 
till the singer emerged at the corner of the path 
where it wound round a lichened crag. 

" My good friend Luigi Feo !" 

" Well met, signor ! and let me introduce to 
you my traveling companion, my little wife, Cate- 

He had kept his word of returning so soon as 
the home was found for her ; and the maiden, fol- 
lowing the mysterious law coaval with creation, 
had left father and mother, and cleaved to her hus- 
band, even to a life-long exile. 

" You see, signor, I did not wait two months at 
Rogoreto with the rest of them ; I was young and 
hardy, accustomed to the mountains, so I set out 
before the thaw," said Luigi, " and reached Zurich 
safely, where I found my knowledge of weaving 
silk so much in demand that very soon I had 
more employment than I could manage, and shall 
have the same now, when I return. I think, 
though, the little Caterina would sooner I had 
fixed to stay in Rogoreto among the Grisons 
wouldst thou, anima mia?" 

And she answered dutifully what was the very 


truth, that Luigi knew best, and that she was 

" Poor little heart ! the mountains frighten her 
and half the time she hath her eyes shut as the 
mule plods past the precipices," observed her hus- 
band. " What a woman's fears are, for a verity ! 
But thou art going to Zurich, signor ?" 

Luigi was not quite sure that he would find the 
physician Di Montalto and his family before him ; 
when he left they had been speaking of returning 
into Italy and settling at Ferrara. This intelli- 
gence took Messer Francesco almost aback ; but as 
nothing certain was known of their movements, he 
concluded to go on to where they were last 
heard of. 

" And now that I look at you, signor, you seem 
older and more worn than when I last saw your 
face among the? Lqcarnese mountains. Ah, little 
thou knewest mine errand past the Red Cross that 
morning, Caterina ! This gentleman and I were 
taking care of the Signora Barbara ; but in very 
truth, signor, thou hast suffered since then !" 

The young physician told of his imprisonment 
and torture in the Dominican convent ; little Cat- 
erina uttering all sorts of pitying exclamations, 
and once or twice beginning the usual appeal to 


the saints or our Lady, until she met her husband's 
grave glance. 

" My friend, I forget," she said to him, apologeti- 
cally, twining her arm within his, as he stood. 
Her life's habit was not easily broken, though its 
substratum of blind belief was gone. 

Luigi's brows knitted, and his black eyes flashed, 
to hear of the torture. 

" If they had caught the signora, she would 
have lain on the same rack ! We are well out of 
that land, Caterina ; we go where they dare molest 
no man for his belief where no shaveling friar 
durst show himself among a free people !" The 
good Luigi not perceiving that this last was 
intolerance even as the former a shortness of sight 
common to his contemporaries. 

By and by, when the toils of the way permitted 
further conversation, Francesco learned that old 
Ursula had died. In great remorse and unquiet- 
ness of conscience, Caterina said, grasping the holy 
relic of the true cross even to the last. 

" And it helped to show this little one," added 
Luigi, who seemed to consider himself necessarily 
his wife's spokesman " it helped to show this little 
one, more than anything else, that the pope's 
religion is not God's religion, when nothing could 


pacify the old woman's mind. No absolutions; 
nor rosaries, nor masses, gave her ease ; not even 
a letter of plenary indulgence itself, ratified by the 
archbishop and costing many golden scudi, was 
sufficient. And she called incessantly for her son 
Giovan that was the last day, when her head 
wandered. He went to the wars some years ago, 
selling himself as a condottiero to the Emperor 
Charles ; and she called him to come and drive 
away with his sword the evil things that looked 
at her." 

Lutheran as Luigi was, old habit inclined him 
much to cross himself at this juncture. Caterina 

" She always said she had helped to kill Nicolas, 
and would be the means of slaying you also, 
signor ; and not all Fra Pietro's preachings could 
persuade her that was a pious work. All the 
money she had she left to that shaveling knave to 
say masses for her soul, and she gave Caterina the 
blessed relic the bit of the true cross of in- 
estimable value, they say !" 

" Signor," began the young wife, a blush tinging 
her dark, rich cheek, " I now bethink me how Fra 
Pietro questioned me concerning the evening that 

thou didst pray beside old Ursula I could not 


know why he examined me so closely ; perchance 
it was to witness against thee, signor ; and he laid 
on me heavy penances.' 7 

" Which thou didst perform, like a little fool," 
cried Luigi, patting her cheek. u Well, never 
friar again shall dare hear the soul-secrets of wife 
of mine ! Of all the clever things invented by 
pope and cardinals, confession is the very cleverest. 
For don't you see, signor, it gets the key of the 
world through the women ! Do you think I'd tell 
my wife anything if she was to kneel next week 
at the ear of some double-dealing priest and tell 
it all back again?" 

Luigi's opinions had undergone considerable 
strengthening during his residence among the 
Lutherans at Zurich. He cast in his lot with the 
Reformed party by reason of the single point of 
truth which he clearly saw Christ's power to save, 
above all saints, priests or popes ; and gradually 
he was advancing to see other truths, and to reason 
from them and concerning them with considerable 
homely good sense. Indeed the truth first received 
had embodied them all, as surely as blossoms in 
the sheath of a many-shafted lily ; their develop- 
ment might confidently be awaited. For that 
promise is of eternal fulfilment, " If any man will 


do God's will, lie shall know of the doctrine, 
whether it be of God." 

A part of the pass which suspended all conver- 
sation was before the travelers. This is the abyss 
entitled by the peasantry the Verlohren Loch, or 
Lost Gulf; a portion of the chasm impassable, until 
within the present century a tunnel was blasted 
through the overhanging mountain. Here our 
three wayfarers were compelled to make a long cir- 
cuit over steep heights ere they could again descend 
the pass toward Tusis. 

And here, once more in the grand gorge, a view 
of surpassing splendour opened before their eyes. 
Through the jaws of the dark ravine, as through a 
vista of perspective, were seen afar, sunlit lands ; 
with the old Etruscan castle of Realt in the fore- 
ground, cresting a vast detached cliff, the warder 
of the mighty pass. It would have been easy to 
idealize that scene something of the thought 
crossed Francesco's imagination. Behind, black 
precipices and gloomy caverns, a very land of the 
shadow of death, whence the Reformed were mak- 
ing their way slowly, painfully, through hosts of 
difficulties, to a fair, sunlit land of freedom and 

" See, signer," observed the garrulous Luigi, " a 


fair omen ! The clouds are in the rear, the sun- 
shine all before us !" 

And with common consent the pilgrims took up 
again their hymn of praise. 



ROM the village of Tusis, situate before the 
jaws of the mighty Splugen Pass, our travel- 
lers proceeded northward along the Rhine 
to Reichenau, and thence, still along the Rhine, 
but eastward, to Coire, capital of the Grison coun- 
try. Now these Orisons had been most kind to the 
Locarnese exiles had offered to them a permanent 
refuge, and admission into all the rights of citizen- 
ship, as if they had been born Switzers, instead of 
Italians. Nearly half the Protestants who had 
left Locarno were induced by these advantages to 
travel no farther, but to settle down in the Grison 
canton with their wives and families. And truly, 
even in this world, the hospitable Grisons had 
their reward. An infusion of the best new blood 
was thus poured into their state : industrious sinew 
and bone, intelligent heads and honest hearts, 
were added to the subjects of the League ; and an 



access of material prosperity was the result by the 
development of new trades and manufactures and 
the extension of the old. 

Some of the indomitable Protestant spirit lingers 
still among the mountaineers of this region. 
There is a hamlet called Feldsberge, built in a 
perilous position beneath a mountain so perpendic- 
ular that its fall was expected, which would of 
course crush the village utterly. The inhabitants 
petitioned the authorities of a neighbouring com- 
mune for leave to migrate and settle in their terri- 
tories; which was refused unless the Protestants 
of Feldsberg would become Roman Catholics. 
A nd the peasants preferred to abide the chance of 
burial alive under their overhanging mountain 
than to give up their older faith. All honour to 
their brave persistence! This occurred not so 
many years ago; and hitherto the threatening 
rocks have been upheld. 

Francesco's haste to Zurich made him quite an 
impatient lingerer for a few days at Coire, even 
among his brethren, the Locarnese emigrants. 
Joyfully turning westward of Ragatz, through the 
beautiful vale of Scez, the glorious mountains 
again gathered round him at the " "Wallenstatter," 
that grand Lake of Wallenstadt. Hard times 


again for Cater iua's mule, but no other pass like 
the Via Mala tried his sinews and her nerves. 

Amid all the magnificence of the scenery, our 
pilgrims began to feel the sensations of exile. No 
flowing accents of sweet Italian greeted their ears 
at the inns, but rough, guttural German dialects, 
of which poor Caterina could not comprehend a 
syllable. The dress of the peasantry, their dwell- 
ings, the very vegetation of the earth, were all 
alien. Something of her loneliness she breathed 
to Luigi. 

".Dear heart! our God will make a home for us; 
we shall learn to love these great mountains ;" but 
an almost involuntary sigh escaped his own breast. 
"It is the will of the good God, little one; and 
heaven is as near Zurich as Locarno ay, and a 
trifle nearer," he added, knitting his black brows. 
"See! the excellent signor hath gone on before to 
the point of the pass : methinks his heart outruns 
his steps to Zurich. Ah ! I know what that feel- 
ing is, little one." 

"But, Luigi," she said, "I hope the mountains 
are not so fierce about Zurich : I never could love 
them, I know. Our own beautiful lake was so 
gentle the sunshine seemed to love it, and the 
rocks were not black and bristling like these." 


""Well, thou wilt have a lake at Zurich, which 
is fair enough/' replied her husband. "The 
Switzers love it surpassingly. Behold! here are 
pilgrims bound for Our Lady of Einseidlen; they 
cross our path southward : her oratory is off there 
among the mountains." 

A number of men and women, walking in long 
files, telling their beads audibly, and some carrying 
huge waxen tapers for presentation at the shrine, 
chiefly peasants, who had left home and families 
and all the duties of their hardworked lives in 
order to fulfil a senseless vow of pilgrimage. 
Presently, through the murmur of paters and aves, 
a single rough voice began to chant 

"Ave, maris stella, 
Dei mater alma, 
Atque semper virgo, 
Felix cceli porta !" 

and twenty other voices took up the strain, hailing 
Mary "Star of the Sea, Mother of God, Gate of 
heaven !" In the next verse they besought her to 
pardon all their sins; and so marched away 
through the valley, to the burden of a song as 
idolatrous as ever ancient Helvetian uttered before 
pagan deity. 

Perhaps Caterina felt some wrenchings of the 


old creed at her heart as she listened to the rude 
melody of that well-known hymn winding away 
among the mountains. Luigi looked at her earn- 
estly; he divined the feeling. 

" Little one ! It is for love of me, and not of 
God's truth, that thou has left father, mother and 
native land. But I will pray that thou mayest 
love the blessed Jesus more than thou lovest me, 
dear heart ! I will read to thee from the Book, 
Caterina, that the divine flame may light into thy 
soul and fill thee with joy, and enable thee to cast 
off the chains of the pope's religion for evermore. 
For dost thou not see that thou art in chains as 
long as thou hast a dread of God ? the God who 
is loving thee ; and popes and priests like men to 
have such a terror; for then they are driven to 
seek access through them, which puts money into 
the Church's purse, and power into the Church's 

The Italian girl listened, with her large, dovelike 
eyes fixed on her husband, thinking in her simple 
heart how clever he was, but not able quite to 
follow his ideas. " I cannot help going back to 
the old religion sometimes/' she said; " but you 
will teach me better, Luigi I have no head for 
these things." 


" 'Tis not head that God wants, but heart, little 
one. Pray to him to make it clear to thee how 
that the blessed Christ has redeemed thee, and that 
thou needest to do nothing further but believe : 
thou needest not penances, nor absolutions, nor 
pilgrimages, nor aught else, but only to trust in 

And Luigi walked silently at the head of her 
mule for a long distance, until they came in sight 
of the blue Zurich See, lying tranquilly among 
verdant hills, which were crested with snowy 
peaks rising behind afar off. Their road lay 
through the old fortified town of Rappersehwyl, 
on the edge of the lake; whence was twenty miles 
to the city of their destination. 

A month before, when the great body of the 
Locarnese exiles approached Zurich, with one con- 
sent the inhabitants came forth to meet them and 
embrace the sufferers as dear brethren, and give 
them house-room and heart-room. What a strange 
old world scene ! One would like to have looked 
on it, and brought away the lesson, " See how 
these Christians love one another !" The strong, 
simple-hearted Protestantism of the age was most 
earnest in its sense of brotherhood, and of its 
duties toward the household of faith, even to self- 


sacrifice. We trust that in our more complicated 
and refined state of society the feeling is only 
latent, not deadened. For truly the closest bond 
that can unite human beings, whether singly or in 
masses, is the community of conversion to God ; 
all other ties are without the man, are perishable 
with this world's ending at furthest; but this 
single bond clasps soul to soul, and is eternal as 

Francesco pressed forward to the city in early 
morning. Noon was shining on the wide waters 
when he first beheld the amphitheatre of heights 
circling Zurich: well-cultured hills, bearing rich 
pastures and farmsteads a populous and peaceful 
province, doubly grateful to the eye after the 
savage scenery he had passed through. The tiled 
roofs and church-steeples of the town nestled to 
the water's edge, after the manner of most lake 
cities ; that ancient cathedral of the tenth century 
crowned all, and the white peaks of the Albis 
culminated the view. 

"What ho, Peppi!" this to a man who was 
travelling along before him at a rapid rate. 
"Dost not know thy friends?'' when he paused 
and started. 

"The Signer Altieri! Nay, but we had given 


thee up for lost;" and the men shook hands 
heartily. "Thou hast escaped then? I give thee 
joyous welcome to the land of freedom." 

" But what of Di Montalto, the physician ? Is 
he in Zurich?" 

" Methinks he is now in the new church which 
the senate have given us, listening to Fra Bernar- 
din, our pastor, who is installed to-day." 

" Not Bernardin Ochino, the celebrated general 
of the Capuchins ?" said Francesco. 

" The same. He has been in Basle since he fled 
from England, and was invited to be our chaplain, 
after Beccaria ; a most eloquent friar they say, and 
one sound in the faith. I was hastening but now 
to hear him." 

" Then I will speed with thee ;" and they 
mended their pace toward the gates of the town, 
Francesco's spirits having risen considerably to 
find that his patron and, by probable consequence, 
his patron's family were still in Zurich. As they 
walked along the refugee told the young physician 
various circumstances of interest connected with 
the exiles : the brotherly welcome they had re- 
ceived in Zwingli's city, the efforts made to pro- 
cure them occupation, and many domestic particu- 
lars with which this narrative has naught to do. 


Passing through the quaint, steep-roofed streets, 
they found themselves presently standing amid the 
listening crowd in the vestibule of the Locarnese 
church. The good Zurichers had flocked in num- 
bers to behold the inauguration of this fiery Capu- 
chin friar, who had endured so much for the faith, 
and whose zeal was unquenchable by the bitterest 
persecution. True, few of them could understand 
the tide of burning language which flowed from 
his lips and flooded the hearts of the exiles with 
passionate emotion. Francesco could hear that 
great glowing voice where he stood near the street 
entrance. He wondered whether the Signora 
Bianca was listening to it likewise. 

But presently the marvellous ardour and elo- 
quence of the preacher seized his whole attention 
and held it riveted. His subject was evidently 
justification by faith, the mighty doctrine which 
had first given quietness to his own restless, seeth- 
ing soul. These were some of Ochino's words : 

" How is it possible that a man by his own ex- 
ertions can make atonement for his immeasurable 
sinfulness ? Would it not be as if a dead man 
should attempt to call himself back to life ? Christ 
by no means said to the chief ruler of the syna- 
gogue, Do thou perform thy part of the atonement, 


and I will fill up what is wanting. Nay, he said, 
' Only believe !' It was human righteousness that 
crucified Christ; and how can we ascribe to it the 
power of justifying and blessing mankind ? Look 
to the thief who was affixed to the accursed tree 
along with Christ, and tell me, I pray you, what 
good did he ever do that he should hear from 
Christ those words, ' This day shalt thou be with 
me in paradise?' You say, perhaps, he suffered 
stripes and the cross. Ah ! were he to die a thou- 
sand times over, he could not give satisfaction to 
divine justice. If you should say he was saved 
by a miracle, I tell you that it is by an equal 
miracle, and by the singular mercy of God, that 
any of us will be saved." * 

Some movement in the crowd enabled Francesco 
to advance nearer, so that presently he had a view 
of the speaker. A tall, spare, worn form, the hair 
and beard white as a snowdrift, the last flowing 
even to his girdle; but in the midst of his pallid 
face glowed most searching eyes, whence one could 
have fancied the glitter of flint-sparks when the 
excitement of the man's spirit rose high. 

Francesco cast one rapid glance round the build- 

* Extracted from a sermon of his, translated into Latin, 
from Italian, by Secundo Curione. 


ing for his friends, but could not see them. They 
were perchance in the galleries overhead. Again 
he was borne away on the preacher's words : 

" Let not any man imagine that we are thus 
justified by Christ simply as an intercessor be- 
cause he asks God the Father for remission of our 
sins. My friend, you omit the divinest thing of 
all ! For Christ hath transferred our sins to him- 
self, and desired that they be ascribed to him, out 
of his great kindness. And not only did he ac- 
cept them as if he who was free from all shadow 
of blame had committed them, but he suffered the 
most agonizing death to satisfy divine justice. He 
gave unto us his innocence, his holiness, nay his 
very spirit and soul, to animate our souls, to en- 
able us to call God our Father ; before whom we 
may stand boldly, uncontaminated by even the 
shadow of a sin. We are utterly free from our old 
sins, because Christ has made them his own, and 
has given us his purity, that we may appear lovely 
before God. But this immortal treasure depends 
upon one faith, one strong and certain persuasion, 
which is only to be received from God. 

" And why should I detain you longer ? Who- 
ever is justified in this manner may stand before 
God's tribunal with that security wherewith Christ 


himself doth stand. As Jacob was received by his 
father instead of Esau, from wearing his brother's 
garments, so are we clothed with Christ, and with 
his ornaments beautified. God will receive us as 
sons, and give us a portion in his everlasting 



NGLISH words can render the main matter 
of Ochino's sermons, but not the full force or 
delicacy of meaning ; nor can the fervid ac- 
cents, the impassioned gestures of this most cele- 
brated preacher of the Italian Reformation be 
reproduced across the ages for our appreciation. 
Suffice it to say, that among his contemporaries he 
was renowned for " extraordinary eloquence," and 
that Cardinal Caraffa, mourning his defection from 
the Roman faith, wrote of him thus : " Ah, Ber- 
nardino ! how great wert thou in the eyes of all 
men ! Thy coarse cap excelled the pope's mitre ; 
thy deep poverty, the riches of the world. Thou 
wert the very herald of the Highest, full of wis- 
dom and adorned with knowledge; the Lord 
placed thee in his holy mount as a light, as the sun 
of the people, as a pillar in his temple, as a watch- 
man in his vineyard." And when the emperor 
n 161 


Charles the Fifth heard him preach, he exclaimed, 
" That man would make the very stones weep !" 

He had been twice general of the order of Ca- 
puchins, and bid fair for a cardinal's hat. Now, 
for conscience' sake, he was the persecuted pastor 
of a congregation of exiled Italians, and all pros- 
pects of earthly honour were closed to the heretic. 
Ochino thought that he had chosen the best part. 

In the evening, when young Altieri was sitting 
at supper with Di Montalto and his family, the 
new pastor entered. The nobility of his presence 
struck Francesco even more than it had done from 
the pulpit. 

" My friend, hearing that thou art going back 
to our poor Italy, I bethought me that I might be 
of some service to thee with such friends as yet 
remember the name of Fra Bernardin," he said, 
addressing the elder physician. "So if I can do 
aught for thee in letters of introduction, or such 
like, I pray thee to command me, brother." 

"I think of going to Ferrara," replied Di Mon- 
talto, passing his hand across his bearded chin in a 
furtive manner and with look askance. The truth 
was, that he had no desire to distinguish himself 
in Italy by adherence to the Reformed party, but 
meant to take a middle course, in which he had 


already proved that no safety rested. He would 
as soon be without Ochino's introductions. 

" Ferrara ! Ah, that was once a blessed city I" 
said the ex-Capuchin " a light to the dark places 
of Lombardy. And still there are precious souls 
there God's hidden ones ; above all, the noble 
Duchess Renee, though she hath appeared, of late, 
to fall from the truth." 

"It was my privilege to know her Excellency," 
said the Signora Barbara, "and to receive much 
benefit from her teaching in my youth. I could 
scarce believe that she would recant the convictions 
of her soul." 

"Ah!" observed Ochino, "the heart is weak 
and our deadly enemy is strong." 

"But Christ is stronger," exclaimed the physi- 
cian's wife. 

" True, my sister, most true ; yet even a Peter 
failed in the hour of bearing witness," replied the 
deep tones of the pastor. "Not unto all men is 
martyr's grace given;" and Francesco remembered 
the account he had heard of Ochino's own flight 
from Florence to Geneva not a flight connected 
with any dishonour or cowardice, but simply a 
withdrawal from the face of death in its most 
fearful form. 


"But it is better to fly than to desert to the 
enemy," remarked Francesco when he perceived 
the glittering eye Ochino fixed upon him. 

"Thou hast borne scars in the cause likewise, if 
I am told rightly concerning thee, my young 
brother," said the ex-Capuchin. "I hear that 
already thou hast suffered at Locarno for the name 
of Jesus. Thou hast the honour of early gradu- 
ating in Christ's college of trial. I would fain 
learn how it was, brother." So Francesco for the 
second time narrated the main facts of his arrest, 
imprisonment and torture. He fancied that the 
Signorina Bianca shuddered and grew paler as he 
just touched on those terrible hours spent upon 
the rack; but then she would compassionate any- 
body, her nature was so kind. 

"Ah!" exclaimed Ochino, rousing himself from 
the sort of reverie in which he had hearkened, 
" we have seen but the prelude of the martyrdoms 
in our poor Italy. I know the Cardinal Caraifa 
well he who last month assumed the tiara under 
the name of Paul the Fourth ; no sterner bigot ever 
wore the purple! He is one that in slaying 
Christ's servants will think he doeth God service. 
Not that he is without noble qualities; in purity 
of life he yields to none, and in singleness of aim. 


He is a man of one idea, and that idea the domi- 
nance of the Catholic Church." 

"Yet he once belonged to that saintly society 
'the Oratory of Divine Love/ with Sadolet and 
Thiene who, they say, is fit for canonization and 
the noble Contarini." 

"Ay, well mayest thou say 'the noble Con- 
tarini !' " echoed Ochino, his piercing eye softening 
at recollection of his friend. " That gentle soul 
suffers no more contradiction of unrighteous 
men ; he hath passed to heaven before the evil 
days. Never did the scarlet hat rest on a worthier 
or more unworldly head. In very truth he was too 
guileless for this age of hypocrisy and state craft. 
His dream was the reformation of the Church by 
the agency of her own sons stripping off her 
meretricious adornment; but God chose to reform 
her by a disruption of the very foundations of her 
throne; and when Contarini saw that she would 
still clasp all her filthy rags and false jewelry to 
her heart, and would not be purified, the idea of 
his life was gone; he had but to die. And he 
died, believing in Christ only, justified by his 
righteousness only. I saw him at Bologna shortly 
before he yielded up the ghost, and he found this 
faith sufficient for that hour of fear." 


A few moments' pause and the physician's 
wife gently remarked, "From the conclave to the 
peasant's cot Christ's truth hath witnesses through- 
out all Italy." 

"Yet, mark me," the monk rose as one inspired; 
" it will not prevail ! The agencies of evil are too 
many and too active. Methinks it is not God's 
purpose to bless our poor Italy with a free gospel. 
She is trampling out the spark of light most 
vehemently, and she will suffer through centuries 
to come centuries of chained consciences and of 
fettered liberties for her present rejection of her 

" But the Duchess RenSe surely hath some 
power in Ferrara still ?" quoth the physician, who 
had been thinking over his worldly prospects, and 
had heard little of the foregoing conversation., 
Bending an anxious gaze on Ochino, he repeated 
his interrogative remark. 

" As a daughter of France she must always 
wield influence even over the despotic Ercole, her 
unworthy husband. I doubt if there could be a 
safer retreat for the Reformed in Italy, except in- 
deed among the Waldense colonies in Calabria, far 

" A pastoral people," said the physician, " and I 


am accustomed to the life of cities. I love not the 
stagnation of the country. I seek to live an honest, 
quiet life, as folks led before these new opinions 
came to overturn the world. Why cannot men 
believe what they choose, and make no noise about 
it?" added Di Montalto, testily. "The world 
would be so much happier." 

"And, nay friend, what of the next, world? 
Would that not be so much the nnhappier?" 
asked Ochino. "Time-serving is one of the 
devil's delusions. Did Christ make a pleasant 
home for himself on earth ? Then how can we, his 
followers, nestle ourselves down in the comforts 
and pleasures of time ?" 

But Di Montalto would not be lifted out of his 
dissatisfaction. Fra Bernardin's keen wits had 
little difficulty in reading the inner man. " My 
friend," he said, " beware that the wings of thy 
soul become not clogged with earthly dross, which 
will prevent thy rising into the heavens when thy 
call comes." 

" Thou wert speaking of the present pope," in- 
terposed Francesco, willing to divert his attention. 
Ochino saw the object and humoured it. Before 
wife and daughter he could not rebuke father. 
" Is he not a very aged man, and may not deliver- 


ance from his bigotry arise by the shortness of his 
reign ?" 

"His years may be nine-and-seventy," replied 
Ochino. " He is hale and healthy as thou art. 
He has been grand inquisitor, whence thou mayest 
judge of his mind toward the Reformed. He 
helped to found the order of Theatines; whence 
judge of his ascetic devotion. He will be for 
purging the Church, but only after his own man- 
ner. His first bull proclaimed reform for the 
Roman court and the hierarchy. The very day of 
his coronation he sent monks into Spain to restore 
the discipline of convents there. Our latest news 
speaks of a congregation of cardinals and prelates 
established for purposes of general reform. There 
is no mightier proof of the conquests of Luther- 
anism than the election of such a pope. Alexander 
and Leo would not have dreamed of this forty 
years ago." 

" But it is merely a lopping off disfiguring ex- 
crescences," said the young man; "all Rome's 
soul-destroying delusions remain ; she is still a 
Church of works and not of faith. What avails it 
that an ecclesiastical government is pure when it 
saves not souls ?" 

"Rome is the wicked Antichrist," affirmed 


Ochino. li There can be no compromise with her, 
for she is founded on the one huge lie that man's 
own doings can make him acceptable to the holy 
Lord God. Many years was I myself in thraldom 
to that yoke. I sought by fastings, prayers, absti- 
nence, watchings, afflictions of the flesh, to pur- 
chase heaven, and make satisfaction for my sins 
through the concurring grace of God. Therefore 
I joined the order of Franciscan Observants, as 
the most austere of all regulars ; therefore I 
further joined the more rigid Capuchins, when I 
beheld their still severer ritual, which commanded 
midnight pfayers, weeks of silence, personal disci- 
pline from sackcloth and scourge. And then I 
said to Christ, * Lord, if I am not saved now, I 
know nothing more that I can do !' Still was my 
heart dark and wretched. I was a stranger to true 
peace of mind until in the sacred Scriptures Christ 
showed me his great righteousness as enough for 
me and all mankind. It was as if the sun had 
arisen over a cold, dark world. Thenceforth my 
soul was glad and strong." 

" I suppose," remarked Francesco, " that most 
of those who come out from Rome have a similar 
struggle of human works against divine faith. I 
have heard my excellent uncle, Baldassare Altieri 


of Venice, speak of his own emancipation from 
the false faith in words like those, but he never 
took the monk's frock." 

" And thou art so close of kin to that worthiest 
of Venetian confessors ?" said Ochino. " Then 
suffering for Christ's cause is in some measure 
thine heritage. How noble that declaration of his 
to Bullinger by letter ! I have seen it under his 
own hand : ' Having given myself to Christ, I 
chose exile rather than to enjoy pleasant Venice;' 
and he hath since been wandering about with his 
wife and boy in want and trouble, sealing his faith 
verily with a painful life. Has aught* been heard 
of him lately, knowest thou ?" 

" Alas !" said Francesco, " we fear he hath fallen 
into the hands of his adversaries ; but I purpose a 
journey to Venice, where live my nearest of kin, 
and I shall make inquiry concerning him." 

" Be not rash, my son, when thou approachest 
the stronghold of the wicked one," said Ochino, 
after a pause of steadfast regard. " Thy body as 
well as thy soul belongs to Christ, and must be 
preserved for his service. Yet flinch not should 
the hour of trial come, for he can give strength 
for any endurance. And now methinks we have 
spoken long enough of things pertaining to this 


passing world ; let us raise our thoughts to heav- 
enly places in Christ. What sayest thou, my 
young brother ?" 

And Fra Bernardin drew a book from his long, 
loose sleeve, opened it at John's Gospel, and read. 



miles circuit of walls, set in vast 
marshes along the curve of a turbid, slug- 
gish river, which is probably given to over- 
flow, for high embankments shut it in. A network 
of similar embankments cross country wherever a 
stream creeps through the rich black soil, and be- 
tween the most fertile fields in North Italy. Maize 
and millet and rice grow luxuriantly whenever 
the desolation of war sweeps not over the plain 
with destructive blast. But no peasant was quite 
sure of his harvest anywhere near the Lombardian 
battle-ground of kings during the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Everybody lived in an uncertain, disquieted 
way, even when men were honest burghers and 
dwelt under guard so efficient as the above seven 
miles of wall. 

Within, long lines of handsome, spacious streets, 

radiate to the central heart of the place a moated 


castle of ponderous red masonry. Plenty of mar- 
ble-fronted palazzi intersperse those busy streets, 
richly carved in pilaster and fa9ade, yet with iron- 
stanchioned windows, strangely suggestive of an 
insecure state of society. The piazza contains a 
fine old cathedral, and is overlooked by the afore- 
said huge castle, yet with a deep broad fosse be- 
tween unwitting symbol of the chasm between 
the common life of the people and their prince, 
over which may sometimes be flung the drawbridge 
of necessity or of policy, only to be lifted away 
again when the urgency is past, and leave the des- 
pot isolated as before. 

Such were Ferrara and her surroundings, as 
they appeared to the newly-arrived from Switzer- 
land in the autumn of the year 1555. Such in 
outline is Ferrara still. The great skeleton city 
remains, though the informing life has departed. 
It now resembles one of the gaunt suits of armour 
set up in our museums a shape over a hollowness. 
The rich marshes along the sluggish river give off 
as much malaria as harvest, owing to bad tillage 
and drainage. The spacious streets are muffled 
with grass and weeds, and, for the most part, are 
silent as Tadmor in the wilderness. The sculp- 
tured palazzos survive, great stranded monsters of 


the aristocratic age, sometimes housing a colony of 
canaille instead of the blue-blooded counts and 
cavaliers of their original ; but still is the con- 
veniently situated castle true to its duty, as resi- 
dent of the spider who watches this web no 
longer one of the ducal line of Este, but a frock ed 
churchman deputed by Ferrara's late lord pope, or 
perchance, at the present date, a green -coated Sar- 
dinian officer. 

But we have to do with " la gran Donna di Po," 
as Tassoni terms it, in the era of her greatness, 
while yet a native prince sat in the huge red castle, 
with a daughter of France for his spouse. Then 
were the streets and squares abundantly animate ; 
commerce and manufactures were carried on to 
some considerable extent, fleets of trading-boats 
voyaged on the Po ; the university boasted dozens 
of learned professors occupying all sorts of chairs, 
and mentally ministering to hundreds of students. 
Duke Ercole was esteemed a well-conditioned 
prince, as princes went in his time ; that is to say, 
he would now be considered an intolerable tyrant, 
and probably meet the fate of the recent king of 
Naples ; but the standard of princely character was 
low in Italy of the sixteenth century much lower 
than that required in their subjects. A little cru- 


elty, a little license, were reckoned trivial blem- 
ishes, especially if a ruler were orthodox. 

That Ercole the Second was orthodox he had 
given many convincing proofs. Had he not in- 
augurated the martyr crusade in Italy by the 
burning of Faventino Fannio, of Faenza, a young 
man of blameless life, but of heretical opinions ? 
Had he not established a college for the new order 
of Jesuits, and taken one of their number to be 
his confessor? Above all, had he not forced his 
wife, the daughter of Louis XII. of France, to 
recant her heresies, under the potent influence of 
solitary confinement in the Cavallo chambers of his 
grim old castle, where deprivation of her children's 
company, an absence of all comforts of books and 
friends, and a drea*d of still further extremities, in 
short space brought her to declare that she believed 
what all men knew that she did not believe? Who 
could doubt that Duke Ercole was a favourite son 
of the Church after such signal achievements ? 

True, he never could quite cleanse the precincts 
of his palace from heretical taints. In whatever 
guise of sophistry the Duchess Rene*e reconciled 
her conscience to the recantation aforesaid, she in 
reality yielded none of her obnoxious Protestant 
opinions. The barest conformity was her con- 


cession to the Roman ritual ; and somehow or 
other none of her chosen companions, none of 
her immediate household, were what might be 
called good Catholics. The confessor Pelle- 
tario was wont to tease Duke Ercole on this 
head, more than on his small offences of cru- 
elty and license above alluded to; but with no 
tangible result, for the duchess had acquired 
worldly wisdom, and gave no tangible offence. 
Besides, there were limits to the persecution that 
could be brought to bear on a daughter of France. 
But would it not have been happier for Renee 
to have been more straightforward in her conduct ? 
That defection of hers has been a scandal to the 
Church through the centuries since, and was a 
stumbling-block to many a feeble Christian during 
her own time. Perhaps it is the consciousness of 
this consequence with casts such a shadow over 
her large open brow as we behold her sitting in an 
apartment of the huge red castle one autumn 
morning, engaged with her women at embroidery. 
Her pale, plain face- bends over the work, into 
which she is weaving golden threads ; but her 
thoughts are evidently not absorbed by the rich 
tissue in her fingers. On the marble slab near 
her is lying an open volume Thomas a Kempis' 


great work " On the Imitation of Christ." Per- 
haps she is thinking how weakly she has failed in 
following him. 

Out of sight, in the pockets of that stiff brocade 
dress, which rustles with every movement, she 
carries a little book which she deems yet more 
precious than a Kempis. It is a small swart 
volume meanly bound, fitter in aspect for a poor 
scholar than a duchess ; and as she presently draws 
it forth and turns over the closely-printed leaves, 
covered with the beautiful black typography of the 
age, we read the title, " Trattato utilissimo del 
beneficio de Gesu Cristo crucifisso, verso i Cris- 
tiani" "A most useful tract concerning the 
benefits which Christ crucified giveth unto Chris- 
tians" by a learned professor of Siena, named 
Aonio Paleario. Verily a proscribed book, con- 
taining heresy enough to infect a province, the 
approval and circulation of which, some years 
afterward, helped to procure the imprisonment of 
the virtuous Cardinal Morme and the burning of 
Carnesecchi ; for it clearly set forth, as Paleario 
himself testified, " that those who turn with their 
souls to Christ crucified, commit themselves to him 
by faith and cleave to him with assured confidence, 
are delivered from all evil and enjoy full pardon 



of their sins. And since he in whom the Divinity 
resided has poured out his life's blood so willingly 
for our salvation, we ought not to doubt of his 
good-will, but may promise ourselves the greatest 
tranquillity and peace."* 

These glorious doctrines now, thank God ! the 
heritage of every English cottager in our free land 
were a stolen luxury to this royal duchess. 
Her heart was soothed as she read, the contracted 
lines on her forehead smoothed away under the 
influence of happier thoughts. A page entered 
and announced a visitor. 

One of ReneVs favourite learned men ; a Greek 
professor named Franciscus Portus in the Latinized 
speech of the day, but a Candian by birth, and 
more than suspected of the new heresy. 

Kene"e led the way to a deep bay-windowed 
recess, which looked out on the brimming canal or 
moat encircling the castle ; beyond were the quaint, 
crowded tenements of old Ferrara. Here they 
could speak without being overheard by her ladies. 

" I have brought to your Excellence the prom- 
ised sonnets of the most noble the Marchesa di 
Pescara, the ' divine Colonna/ as scholars delight 

* Extracted from Paleario's defence, pronounced before the 
senate of Siena. 


to call her/' said Portus, after some opening con- 
versation. "Truly for purity of idiom and 
beauty of conceits there hath not arisen her like 
since Petrarch's lyre is dumb. 7 ' 

"But I wonder/ 7 quoth Ren6e, turning over the 
thin volume, for her soul needed something better 
than literary conceits just then "I wonder if she 
hath expressed any of her religious feelings here. 
I have seen sonnets wherein her words had scarce 
an uncertain sound. Oh for the old days when we 
both hearkened with delight to the good Frate 
Bernardin Ochino preaching in our cathedral on 
the piazza, ere yet the ferocious Inquisition shut 
the word of God from our people !" 

The wary professor glanced across his shoulder, 
but the three attendants were tranquilly embroider- 
ing, as their mistress had left them. 

"All 'novatori/ as our Reformed are styled,' 7 
said the duchess, answering the gesture. "More- 
over, we are too distant to be overheard. My 
friend, believe me that I have learned to be 

" If your excellent Highness will permit me," 
said Portus, colouring slightly, " I will show you 
certain in this collection of sonnets which prove 
that the marchesa still retains the truth, howso- 


ever her utterance of it be straitened. What 
think you of these lines against Rome's most 
powerful engine of craft the confessional ?" He 
read for the duchess the sonnet whose ending runs 
briefly thus in English prose : 

" Passing beyond the priestly gown, 
To Christ alone we tell our every sin." 

"Methinks," added the professor, "that verse 
bears not indistinct meaning." 

" Many a minor heretic has been burnt for less," 
said the lady, glancing through the short poem a 
second time. " Poor Yittoria ! she was. very near 
the kingdom of God that kingdom which I have 
entered, and seemed to betray," added Rene"e in 
her own heart. u Yet can I not serve the good 
cause better as I stand in my royal estate than if I 
were captive in a dungeon ?" 

Portus respected her momentary reverie, and 
spoke not till she looked up : 

" Another sonnet, your Highness, and one of the 
Colonna's best, sets forth plainly the Reformed doc- 
trines of instant conversion and justification, with- 
out any agency of Church or ceremony a truth 
surely most distasteful to Rome, as striking at the 
very root of her dominion. The marchesa affirms 


that the miraculous light from heaven hath molten 
the ice round her heart, hath caused the dark 
mantle of her sin to fall away, and hath discovered 
her robed in primal innocence and primal love!" 

Rene"e smiled, and Nature, as if to compensate 
for her homely features, had bestowed on her a 
smile of rare sweetness. Well had she known the 
sensation which that sonnet recorded; the purest 
of all joys granted to human souls conscious con- 
version to God. And she remembered that no 
vivid metaphor, nor impassioned eloquence of 
words, could exaggerate the glory of that light 
from heaven or the deliverance from that dark 
vesture of sin. 

"But she writes only of primal innocence," 
observed the duchess, when Portus had finished 
reading the graceful fourteen lines. " She speaks 
not of Christ's righteousness ; and evil were it for 
us if we had not justification through him, as well 
as sanctification through the Divine Spirit. " 

"Most noble lady, the marchesa has ~ not for- 
gotten," cried the professor, who did not like the 
smallest blemish to be found in the compositions 
of this literary idol, for such was Yittoria Co- 
lonna during her brilliant lifetime. " Hearken to 
these lines : 


' Fear not, poor soul : into this world has come 
Jesus, great ocean of eternal good ; 
He will make light for thee each heaviest load.' 

Or these other lines/' and Portus turned the pages 
rapidly : 

' He who alone on Christ hath fixed his gaze 
Not who best understands, or studies best 
With human learnings shall be blest in heaven.'" 

" Yes," observed the duchess, " that is ring of 
the true metal. My good Portus, I thank you for 
your trouble in procuring me this book. And 
now about the signora concerning whom you spoke 
to me formerly ?" 

" I crave your Highness' pardon," said the 
professor j hurriedly, " but the Signora di Montalto 
hath been waiting in the ante-chamber till it should 
be your pleasure to admit her to audience. I I 
your Highness knows my absent disposition, 
especially when a matter of learning is in hand." 

" It were well that the fault could be remedied, 
my friend," replied Rene"e, gently, when he stum- 
bled in his excuses. " It were hardly courteous to 
leave the lady an old acquaintance, too so long 
waiting. But you have something further to say, 
monsieur ?" 

" A moment : I would beseech your Highness 


to permit that I should introduce to you the noble 
Count Galeazzo Caraccioli, eldest son of the Mar- 
quis di Vico, who is travelling to Geneva, and is 
under persecution for the gospel's sake. The no- 
ble gentleman is lodging at my poor house for the 

" We will receive him ; but the Signora di Mon- 
talto cometh first/ 7 said the duchess briefly, and 
rising. Now, when Ren6e stood, the natural de- 
formity of her figure became manifest : attitudes 
of sitting might conceal the crookedness. An- 
other of the crosses in her apparently brilliant lot 
was this personal uncouthness, and the worse was 
it because it alienated from her the regards of her 
husband, Ercole the Second would never have cast 
into solitary confinement a wife whom he really 



HE Signora di Montalto had begun to be se- 
riously uneasy for her expected reception be- 
fore the forgetful Portus reappeared. The 
windows of the ante-chamber looked upon a narrow 
alley floored with a canal of deep, dark water; for 
the huge red castle is intersected with canals, which 
flow beneath archways and between lofty piles of 
building; and the dungeons underneath oh, what 
noisome and slimy recesses of unclean things ! 
Barbara could not help thinking of the dungeons 
as she glanced downward at that dull, blinking 

But up here in the royal rooms, all high and 
dry, are walls panelled with paintings, and ceilings 
emblazoned, and ponderous inlaid furniture, and 
beaufets ten or twelve feet high, in the banquetting- 
hall, loaded with silver plate, and the sleeping- 
chambers contain beds curtained with crimson 
satin, adorned with massive gold fringe. This an- 
te-roorn, where Barbara di Montalto has been wait- 



ing for so long, is lined with sets of stamped 
leather hangings, of the valuable " ostrich-egg" 
pattern ; vast settees, immovable as stone benches, 
extend in various lengths along the sides. A 
couple of richly-dressed pages lounge near the door 
opening on the grand staircase. 

" The court is much gayer," quoth one lad, 
"since the return of the Prince Alfonso; but I 
fear me he hath brought with him some of the 
hatred against the Protestants which ' our cousin 
Henry of France' shows so plentifully. He goes 
with the duke in everything." 

u His sister of Guise has been giving him some 
lessons, I trow," rejoined the other. " Besides, 
don't you see, 'tis easy for us to talk, and for her 
Highness, who won't have to handle halbert ; but 
we lie too close to Rome here, and that fiery old 
Paul the Fourth would swoop down upon Ferrara 
like a kite on a capon if the duke didn't give him 
at least fair words." 

Conversation of this sort did not tend to reas- 
sure the already downcast spirit of the physician's 
wife. And so much depended on this interview ! 
so many hopes had been built on it ! Two anx- 
ious hearts waiting at home, drearily waiting, look- 
ing out for her ere now what if she could only 


bring them disappointment ? And then she tried 
to stay her soul on the great ultimate thought the 
will of God, which must be good and wise for all 
who put their trust in him : she tried to leave on 
him her care, knowing that he had permitted this 
evil of exile to befall them. Yes, come what might, 
she would not lose hope in him. 

When the professor entered from the duchess' 
saloon, Barbara almost expected to hear that her 
request for an audience was refused : she had 
learned something of Renee's position, and the ex- 
treme caution which that royal lady was compelled 
to observe in her encouragement of the Reformed. 
It was therefore a joyful surprise when Portus, 
drawing his cloak about him, w 7 hispered, 

1 ' The most illustrious duchess will receive you : 
enter at once. I go for the Count Caraccioli, of 
whom I told you : addio." 

With a beating heart the physician's wife entered 
ReneVs presence. She was standing still in the 
recessed window, looking forth on the slumbering 
moat and its brown shadows. Quickly turning at 
the slight sound of the footstep, she looked pier- 
cingly on Barbara who knelt, according to usage, 
and kissed the sovereign hand. 

" Thou art not so much changed by time and 


matronhood," said the duchess, " but that I would 
know thee to be the daughter of Bianca Dalfi a 
lady for whom in verity we had much esteem and 
regard, and whom the princesses still remember 
with affection. Therefore thou art welcome to 
Ferrara, and to such poor help as may lie in our 
present favour." 

The physician's wife again kissed the sovereign's 
hand with fervour, and tears rose in her eyes. 
" Your Highness is too good," she said, falteringly, 
for the graciousness had been more than she had 
dared to hope during the last dreary hour. 

" Portus has told me somewhat of you," added 
the duchess, " and that you approved yourself a 
good soldier of Jesus Christ before the papal nun- 
cio at Locarno. You have been braver than I, 
good Barbara," continued Rene"e, with a touching 
humility : " you stood firm where I failed : the 
scholar hath indeed excelled the teacher !" 

" Most illustrious lady," began Di Montalto's 
wife, rather confounded by this unexpected al- 
lusion to ReneVs public defection from the faith. 
She sought for some courtly words which might 
gloss over that great error, but truth compelled 
her to be silent. 

" Thou doest well not to strive for excuse," ob- 


served the duchess, with a shade of bitterness in 
her tone. " But let that pass. Tell me when 
wert thou last at this court of ours ?" 

" Twenty years agone, most noble lady, since the 
spring when the Signer Carlos Heppeville so- 
journed in this castle," was the reply. 

" Ah ! the great John Calvin, as he is called in 
our native land,' 7 observed the duchess. "A pow- 
erful and weighty preacher as ever wielded God's 
word to the confusion of error : he had just at that 
time printed his ' Institutes of the Christian Re- 
ligion/ dedicated to our royal brother-in-law 
Francis : we remember it well. Ah ! the light of 
truth was rising fairly over our poor Italy in that 
year ! but since it hath been as a morning over- 
cast with cloud and storm." 

A few brief moments' pause, while Renee's 
mind travelled quickly back over that gulf of 
twenty years to the days of her youth, when fair 
children clustered about her knees, nor had yet 
been taught to regard their mother's instructions as 
contamination : Anna d'Este, now unhappily wife 
to Duke Francis of Guise, then learning Scripture 
from her lips, with the self-willed heir-apparent 
Alfonso : oh for those happy times of love and 
trust and unsullied truth ! Other figures rose in 


the camcra-obscura of memory : the sweet, grave 
face of Madame de Soubise, governante of Rente's 
childhood, to whom she owed her first glimpses of 
Reformed faith ; the learned canon Calcagnini, who 
was the earliest asserter in that age of the school- 
boy truism of the earth's rotation on its axis ; the 
strange and versatile Clement Marot, her secretary 
and laureate, who cultivated poetry arid theology 
by turns, enjoying the sentimental beauty of Scrip- 
ture truth, but having no root of the matter in 
him. These, and many others, all passed away ! 
The followers of Christ's gospel skulking in holes 
and corners of the Ferrarese territory herself 
first among renegades ! The duchess heaved a 
deep sigh, and returned to the widely different 
present time. 

"I had forgotten/' said the physician's wife, 
timidly "I had wellnigh forgotten to give your 
Excellence a letter from the Frate Ochino, where- 
with he entrusted me when we were leaving 

At the close of faithful counsels to the lady's 
self (and so plain-spoken were those counsels that 
even the gentle Renee's brow contracted while 
reading them) the former general of the Capuchins 
mentioned somewhat of the physician Di Mon- 


talto's desire to settle and follow his profession in 
Ferrara, under the powerful protection of her most 
serene Highness. 

"He overrates my power," said the duchess, 
sadly. "I, who cannot protect my ownself from 
imprisonment, am scarce likely to be able to pro- 
tect others. But the post of second physician to 
our household may soon be vacant, for the present 
holder thereof seeks for a chair of medicine at 
Padua; if he succeed, then the Sieur di Montalto 
may reckon on our favour. Nay, no thanks; are 
we not commanded, above all others, to assist the 
household of faith ?" 

Rene"e pronounced these words, and indeed all 
which bore reference to her proscribed opinions, in 
a lower tone. As she had ended, some bustle in 
the ante-chamber, audible even at this far end of 
the inner apartment, announced an arrival of im- 
portance. The heavy door was swung aside by 
the page to its fullest width, and his "most illus- 
trious Highness il Principe Luigi" was announced. 

The duchess' pale face, which for an instant 
had worn an expression of anxiety and unpleasing 
expectation had she not feared the entrance of 
her despotic lord, Ercole the Second ? lighted up 
as if a sunbeam had glanced across her as the 



gallant-looking young prince bent knee and kissed 
her hand, such courtly deference did the manners 
of the age require between the best-loving parent 
and child. But the next instant he was clasped in 
her arms, and stooping his tall figure, pressed his 
lips on her brow affectionately. 

" I could not go on the hawking-party without 
seeing thee, dear mother," he whispered. " I have 
been at my books all the morning my father 
saith I shall be a premature churchman : truly I 
delight more in them than in falcon and hound; 
but he sent to demand my presence on this ride, so 
I obey." 

It was the blessed golden thread of domestic peace 
in Renee's life, the possession of this virtuous and 
dutiful son. Called at the font after his grand- 
father, Louis XII., the " Father of his People," 
she had often prayed that in goodness he might re- 
semble that kindly monarch ; and the prayer was 
granted, for even under the cardinal's red hat, 
which he wore in after years, Luigi d'Este was 
honourably known for his great virtues. 

" And thou hast not looked at my brave attire, 
my lady mother," said he, drawing himself up 
with a smile: "the handsomest doublet in all 
Ferrara, be the other what it may. Meth ought," 


he added, saucily, "the woman's eye would spy 
out the finery in a moment !" 

Of Genoa velvet, slashed in the sleeves so as to 
show the white linen beneath, and embroidered 
with dead gold, it became the lithe figure well ; 
and the close-fitting, purplish-gray hosen, reaching 
from hip to heel, set off his shapely limbs. From 
his hand dangled a black velvet cap, adorned with 
a flowing ostrich plume of the purest white. 

"Thou art well dressed, my dearest," replied the 
mother, her eye wandering with an instant's pride 
over the well-loved form : " but I trust" and here 
ReneVs voice again dropped to the heretical whis- 
per "I trust that thou hast fairer adornments 
than these in the sight of thy God, my Luigi." 

The winding of bugles was heard without. 

"Well, mother mine, when I am pontiff thine 
innocent little heresy shall not be disturbed you 
have my episcopal word for it. I am sure that 
faith cannot be bad which makes you so much 
better than anybody else ; though I was forgetting 
you are as orthodox as any of us since Pelletario 
heard your confession. I must be gone, or those 
horns will be hoarse and his most serene Highness 

in a rage." 

And the brilliant hawking-party rode over the 


castle drawbridge, and across the thronged piazza ; 
foremost " the fine presence" and commanding port 
of Ercole the Second, with his fair youngest son 
riding at his right hand. Merry jest and laugh 
resounded among the richly-dressed cavaliers and 
dames who followed the sovereign's steps on jennet 
and palfrey; while the poor, hard-working lieges, 
in hempen attire, looked at the courtly array as at 
some glimpse of a grandeur immeasurably above 
them as much above their lowly spheres of la- 
bour and of need as the ponderous red castle is 
above the fruit-booths in the. subject piazza. 

Not twenty minutes after the ducal cavalcade 
has glittered by a woman in common black mantle 
and tunic comes over the same drawbridge, and 
through the same thronged market-place, bearing 
in her heart more genuine happiness than the most 
envied individual of that brilliant hawk ing-party. 
Indeed Barbara di Montalto feels as though her 
cup of joy were running over; for it is a very little 
temporal delight that, added to a heart already en- 
dued with the love of our dear Saviour, will suffice 
to fill it to the brim with happiness. What a value 
is added to the commonest events, the humblest 
joys and successes of human life, if the Almighty 
Friend stand consciously by, blessing them all ! 




(T is Christmastide in Ferrara. All the broad- 
paved thronghfares are full of fluctuating 
crowds, swaying to and fro at church arch- 
ways, flowing along beneath the heavy-corniced 
palaces and beside great grim monasteries, bound 
on that mixed medley of business, pleasure and de- 
votion which forms a Roman holiday. 

Enter these vast ecclesiastical buildings, and see 
the religion of the multitude embodied in wax or 
marble in endless groups of the predominant 
Mother and her subject Child. Behold the cupola 
of burnished gold above her head, her throne of 
lapis-lazuli, her robes of the gaudiest and costliest 
tissues inwrought with precious stone. The holy 
Child is quite subordinate, both in the image and 
in the worship it calls forth. Again, pass into the 
next sanctuary among the surging crowd trampling 
the mosaic pavement between dim marble columns ; 
gaze at the treasures this day bared to popular 
view a dusky antique picture of the same holy 



woman (in sooth, not fair to view, but stern enough 
for a sphinx), with golden lamps burning continu- 
ally before the flattened features, and golden angels 
holding up the frame. St. Luke is believed to 
have been the painter of the representation thus 
glorified. Votive offerings of jewels and cups 
and chalices lie before it. A neighbour church has 
no such transcendent attraction, but the wits of 
the brotherhood which own it have devised a very 
taking exhibition to draAv some custom to their 
booth. This is none else than an accurate model 
of the Bethlehem stable, including the manger, the 
cattle, waxen figures of Joseph and Mary, and 
wonderful to relate ! a tiny clothes-horse holding 
still tinier baby linen of cambric and lace ! This 
exhibition particularly pleased the women and 
children, who were not soon tired of admiring the 
miniature waxen Mother and her infant Son, but, 
above all, the domestic drapery attendeut. Why 
the dazzling high altar, with curtains of rose- 
coloured silk looped up to its snowy pillars, with 
its tall crosses of many-hued flowers, with its 
galaxy of gold and silver vessels flashing back the 
brilliance of a hundred tapers, was no attraction 
compared with the tiny clothes-horse ! 

Then there was no end of processions, music, 


chanted litanies; long files of tapers winding round 
the aisles, dropping wax as they went on the mo- 
saic; priests and friars in all sorts of garments, 
from violet silk and lace to the dun serge and rope. 
The religion of scenic effect was perfect. 

Yet not all in Ferrara bowed down before it. 
A little band of obscure Christians lurked in by- 
streets, who dared to withdraw themselves from the 
universal popular homage, and who found not food 
for devotion in pictures, chantings and wax-lights. 
Nay, even the noble army of martyrs had gained 
recruits from among them. Fannio had led the 
van of the Italian contingent gradually ascending 
in fiery chariots to join that mighty army in 
heaven. Death, torture, banishment had greatly 
lessened the once flourishing Reformed Church in 
Ferrara ; and perhaps the sorest blow of all was 
struck by the hand of a real friend when the 
Duchess Renee bowed in the Romish confessional 
and publicly received the Roman eucharist. 

And so, this Christmas time of 1555, the religion 
of scenic effect was in full swing at Ferrara, in 
full favour at court and with the people. Our few 
obscure " heretics" hid themselves, and were satis- 
fied to retain their lives and daily bread if possible. 
Particularly softly did the physician Di Montalto 


walk, as a man wise in his generation, as a child 
whose fingers have been burned. "All things to 
all men" was a text which he admired much, and 
applied in practice according to his own theory of 
its meaning. He had no mind to suffer any fur- 
ther for conscience 7 sake. He would sail with the 
tide, but he fondly hoped to be able to port helm 
and shift yards before coming to the breakers. 
Had he not a mental reservation of belief? Could 
any one really blame him for bowing his head 
before St. Luke's blackened picture, when in his 
heart he knew it a hideous imposition, though it 
would cost him his life to say as much? He 
reasoned that the philosophic deceit was necessary 
" Evil that good might come." 

The young girl clasping his arm through all the 
crowds never made a semblance of obeisance at any 
shrine. The very multitude was her safety in this 
daring disobedience. Drawing her wimple about her 
face with one hand, she clung to her father with the 
other, noting with her bright eyes the theatrical 
decorations, the religious jewelry, the toy-shop 
models, and having some scorn for them all ; also 
noting the hurried gestures which were deemed 
devotion, the rapid signing of the cross, muttering* 
with the lips while the eyes wandered in quick 


glances at one's neighbours, and the facile knee 
bent for a few seconds before an image. A good 
deal of this was new to Bianca. She had been 
reared in the lap of the Reformation by an en- 
lightened mother, and the thick darkness of Italian 
popery came upon her with unpleasant surprise. 
She had gone to none of the festas in Locarno. 
Her father occasionally went, true to his trimming 
policy, and now in Ferrara he insisted on her 
accompanying him. What comparisons to the 
pure worship of the Reformers were made by that 
pretty, well-balanced head, veiled with the dark 
wimple ! How much worthier of the Supreme 
appeared the spirit-adoration of a renewed heart, 
clothed in fervid utterance of the common tongue, 
than these prolonged Latin chantings, these mean- 
ingless genuflexions. How incomparably more 
exalted one of Savonarola's or Brucioli's hymns 
than these litanies and rosaries replete with no- 

She was glad when the tour of the churches was 
over and she entered the narrow, quaint street 
where she was to join her mother and friends at 
supper. Her father did not speak for some 
minutes after they had left the crowds behind. 
She felt that he was displeased. 


"A tolerable religion this of yours," he observed 
at last, " which allows you to disobey your parent 
and run him into danger. . But I warn you, Mis- 
tress Bianca. Your mother has drawn on me the 
loss of all my property, and left me a pauper in 
my gray hairs, and I have no mind to lose my life 
for sake of your obstinacy next." 

" Father, what can I do ?" said Bianca, with a 
sinking heart. 

" Just what the Duchess Rene*e has done, like a 
sensible woman. Keep your opinions as you 
choose, but don't obtrude them. Everybody 
knows that she has not really given up one iota of 
her faith, and that her confessing to Fra Pelletario 
was a mere form, gone through for peace' sake. 
But see what she has gained by it ! I wish your 
mother would follow her example, that's all, and 
not run my neck into danger by headstrong zeal. 
It is little more than three years since Giorgio 
Siculo, a most learned man, was found hanging 
before the windows of that Palazzo della Ragione 
on charge of heresy." Di Montalto shuddered as 
he glanced at the great marble pile, the upper 
stories of which passed on high into the dark air 
far above. Not far away was the spot where had 
stood the stake of Fannio ; and an under-sound, 


pervading the hum of populous streets, was the 
plash and lapse of that turbid river which had 
borne the martyr's ashes to the sea. Ferrara had 
corners, dowered with associations, sufficient to 
make a nervous man, suspected of heresy, tremble 
in his shoes. 

He left his daughter on the high steps of the 
house of the Madonna Morata, and passed along 
deeper into the labyrinth of streets himself. 

" My father who used to be so kind, so good- 
how strangely altered !" thought Bianca. " My 
dear father! his soul is bitter with poverty God 
show him the true riches I" 

Within a low, wide room, rather bleak-looking 
for in Italian houses of the middle classes of 
that period little provision for winter comfort 
existed three women were sitting at work. Bi- 
anca's mother we readily recognize by the bold, 
dauntless features, which yet have enough of 
feminine softness, chastened by trial ; beside her is 
a worn-looking woman, with pale anxious face, 
now bent over repairs of house-linen, but more 
often laying down her needle in the earnestness of 
conversation. This was the dame Lucrezia Morata, 
described by contemporaries as " a model of mat- 
ronly and domestic virtue, and who proved by her 


conduct in times of trial and persecution that she 
was also endowed with strength of mind and 
genuine religious principle." 

The third is a fair young matron, scarce past the 
bloom of girlhood: her distaff and spindle are 
busy. Bianca is received with much welcome 
with more demonstrations of it from the strangers 
than from the parent ; but the eye of this last 
follows her and rests on her when the politeness of 
the others had ceased, and notes a certain weariness 
in her expression. She is able to guess the cause, 
and says nothing. Work was found for Bianca on 
some of the house-linen such hard, heavy linen 
as no loom produces now, each web of which 
might last a lifetime and form an item in a legacy. 

The younger women naturally draw together 
and converse in low tones. Between them, in 
matters mental, lies one great gulf. Morata's 
daughter has been trained, as became the sister of 
the celebrated Olyrnpia, to a considerable know- 
ledge of classic learning. Latin iambics and Greek 
hexameters are familiar to her, while Bianca knows 
no more of the dead languages than a few grammar 
lessons from Francesco Altieri have left in her 
memory. Consequently she looks with respect- 
ful admiration on the other, for the height of 


education in that age was to construct Latin verses 
fluently and to translate the Psalms of David into 
Greek odes. 

But not on such learned topics do they talk this 
evening. The signorina, who has been visiting the 
churches, relates their scenic shows, and the signora, 
who has stayed at home, admires or condemns as 
the narrative requires. 

" But, my Bianca," the young matron says, with 
the slightest of sly looks, "how would a friend of 
ours who has gone into the Venetian territories ap- 
prove of this manner of spending Christmas eve?" 

"I don't suppose he would approve of it at 
all," replies the other, colouring deeply despite her 
quiet tone; "but you know that I do not owe him 
obedience until " And here some intricacy in 
the damsel's work requires her to look very closely 
at it indeed. 

"Well done, my transparent Bianca," cries her 
mischievous friend. "Until when do you intend 
to disobey this young signor?" 

"I mean," said the other, "that that it is my 
certain duty to obey my father." An appealing 
look was turned upon Peregrina, with the words, 
"You know it is my duty to obey my father, and 
he required me to go with him to see the sights." 


"Whether such bowing in the house of Rimmon 
is allowable even to the plea of filial obedience," 
remarked Peregrina, rather pedantically, but re- 
lapsing into seriousness, "I have not made up my 
mind, though I rather think that sophistry alone 
can justify it." 

"But, my Peregrina, I did not bow," pleaded 
Bianca; "I merely looked. I have come back, as 
I always do, tenfold a Lutheran. Such ceremonies 
and splendours don't now attract me in the least." 

" Because you have a Northern imagination. 
They are only suited for our warm Southerns," 
responded Peregrina. "Now they attract me 
strongly. I own to an admiration for the music, 
the lights, the crowds, the rich colouring; there- 
fore there's some merit in my abstinence." 

"Well," said Bianca, "what I think about these 
shows and ceremonies is, that when the most 
gracious Lord has truly enlightened one's soul, and 
revealed his own salvation by the indwelling of 
the Divine Spirit, then one sees the popular re- 
ligion to be dishonouring to him, and that an 
idolatry of the Virgin and the saints has sup- 
planted true spiritual worship of Christ our 
Saviour. It is not so, dear friend?" 

"Truly," said Peregrina. "It hath often struck 


me when reading the poets and historians of old 
Rome. Thou knowest somewhat of those great 
luminaries of the mind, my Bianca?" 

"Nay, scarce anything," said Di Montalto's 
daughter, humbly, and feeling herself only fit for 

" Well, it hath come forcibly to my thought that 
the numerous saints of our modern Rome do 
strongly resemble the gods and goddesses of the 
old Pantheon in pagan times. The Virgin is 
worshipped in the very shrines of Diana and of 
Venus; she is called the queen of heaven, like 
Juno. Minor divinities have quite withdrawn 
worship from the Supreme; every village hath its 
local saint, successor of the tutelary god of the 

"Peregrina," called her mother across the table, 
"find for me in the second oaken chest that 
Sapphic ode, written by our Olympia when she 
was but in her twelfth year. Ah ! how entranced 
was the canon Calcagnini over it ! Methinks I be- 
hold her now in fair white vesture reciting her 
verses for her father's learned friends, conversing 
with them in Latin as fluently as in Italian, while 
they marvelled at her acquirements. Ah me, those 
happy days !" 


The poor widow leaned back in her chair, and a 
natural tear welled down the faded cheek. But 
present exigencies brought back her wandering re- 
grets, as the returning needs of daily life do al- 
ways, in God's wise providence, recall from sorrow. 

" Peregrina, go thou and see after the supper; 
that service-maid is dilatory." So the youthful 
matron obediently rose a second time to carry out 
her mother's behest. Filial submission was in 
that age considered to extend through life, and no 
altering of position or circumstances could release 
from such duty. The dame Lucrezia ordered 
about her daughter (though married for some time 
to a Milanese signer of good means) as if she had 
been yet a school-girl. 

Rice, with milk of almonds and dried figs, fish 
cooked with wine and spices, were the items of 
fare this evening at the Italians' great daily meal 
of supper, for it was the vigil of a festival. The 
table now only awaited the arrival of the Milanese 
signor and of Di Montalto. 



HE massive oaken chest had accordingly been 
opened, whose lid was all heavily carved in 
basso-relievo : and a treasury of a few valu- 
able books (relics of the late professor's library) and 
priceless papers revealed. Examine the former, 
chiefly delicate editions of the classics from the 
Venetian press of the famous typographer Aldus : 
hold the latter up to the light, and you will find 
the orthodox watermark of the crossed keys on its 
coarsely wired surface. Early scribblings of the 
gifted Olympiads hand, translations of Italian 
fables into Latin (bearing date of an age when our 
degenerate children toil through monosyllabic 
spelling-books of their mother tongue), attempts at 
Greek composition of an equally premature season ; 
some few finished poems, which showed an aston- 
ishing command over the resources of an extinct 
language : these were the proud mother's choice 
possessions, showed out daintily while the women 
waited for their lords. 



" And my little Emilio was treading in her 
steps, bless his heart! He's hardly the little Emilio 
now, but growing apace, she tells me, and making 
progress in all polite learning under her instruc- 
tion. She hath had him to train from the cradle 
he numbered but five years when his poor father 
died; and she would take him to Schweinfurth 
with her when she was married." 

" You said she dwells at Heidelberg now ?" re- 
marked the other matron. 

" Yes, Griinthler has got the chair of medicine 
at the university ; and our Olympia might be at- 
tached to the elector's court, an she but willed it. 
Methinks her spirits have never recovered that 
fearful siege of Schweinfurth, when she and her 
husband lost everything ; and her health has never 
been the same. Would that I could see her once 
more! They have asked us to go and live in 
Germany with them, but travelling is so uncertain 
in these warlike times for women. Olympia calleth 
Italy Babylon, and would have us leave it at all 
hazards ; but I love Ferrara, and my son-in-law 
could not withdraw himself from his properties ; 
he is well to do, as thou knowest, Dame Barbara, 
and asked no dowry with my Peregrina. And I 
hear enough of tumults on the other side of the 


Alps likewise; the emperor will fight with the 
electors, and keep Germany in a broil. Mine 
elder daughter Yittoria is well settled with the 
Princess Lavinia della Rovere, in Rome, who 
was a special friend of our Olympia, and favoured 
her when even the Duchess Renee was turned 
against her by the arts of that Carmelite Bolsec. 
For I am convinced it was all his fault/ 7 said the 
poor mother, to whom the machinations of a court 
and the whims of royal personages were inexplic- 
able. " As almoner he had the ear of her Excel- 
lence, and was a most pestilent knave, and hated 
the influence of our Olympia over the princesses." 
" But I have heard you say yourself, my friend/ 7 
interposed the physician's wife, " that her disgrace 
at court was the first thing which drove her soul 
to the blessed Christ ; and if this be so, it were 
not a misfortune to her best interests." 

"Oh, truly it was the neglect of her great 
friends which turned her heart to God/ 7 replied 
the mother. "During her years at court, when 
. she was feted, admired, caressed beyond example 
by the noble and the learned, she was indeed a 
good and a worthy daughter ; but the Greek and 
Latin authors had filled her mind with heathen 
lore so much that she might nigh as well have 


been a pagan maiden of Tally's time, for all the 
Christian faith and hope that was in her soul. 
She knew not the grace of God as a living prin- 
ciple : she had heard Fra Bernardin Ochino, whose 
eloquence would move the very angels; yet his 
sermons only were to her as the music of a sweet 
player, passing away when the sound was over. 
Her brain was indeed filled with curious specula- 
tions as to election, predestination and the like 
class of doctrine, with which, as my poor Fulvio 
Morata used to say, she too much occupied the in- 
tellect to the neglect of the practical culture of 
the heart. But when the blessed Lord spake to 
her himself by troublous dispensations, and brought 
the dark cloud of sorrow and poverty over her life, 
she was humbled and hearkened unto him ; and I 
have heard her bless the day that her life at court 
ended. Therefore she careth not to be the elec- 
tress's lady-in-waiting now. See what her letter 
saith this letter which my daughter Vittoria 
sent to me to read some time since." 

There was a very small bundle of them, these 
precious letters : not so many received during the 
four years' absence as you, my young lady readers, 
probably have in your desk from a fortnight's cor- 
respondence. But in the sixteenth century days 



of scant arid slow communication, an epistle was a 
large event to both sender and receiver : it was no 
ephemeral production, to be tossed aside when 
glanced over, but rather in the nature of an im- 
portant despatch, to be laid up carefully after every 
word was weighed. 

" 7 Tis many a month since we heard from our 
Olympia ah ! my friend, there was a time when 
all Ferrara proudly styled her 'our Olympia?' 
Do I not remember her" and the mother pulled 
down again the cumbrous, jointed spectacles 
through she was about to scan the letter "do I 
not remember her in her fifteenth year, declaiming 
publicly in Latin and Greek before the whole court 
and university, explaining the paradoxes of the 
greatest orators, answering every question ad- 
dressed to her ? and all with so much modesty and 
grace that she won the affection as well as the ad- 
miration of her hearers ! Ah, those were halcyon 
days !" exclaimed the widow, looking back with 
pardonable elation on the triumph of her child. 
" How proud was her poor father ! for her learn- 
ing was his work. Many a bitter day of penury 
and exile did he spend in laying foundation for her 
fame : and truly her like was seen in no age since 
the Augustan." 


With a sigh the faded woman closed that bright 
page of her memory, and pushed up the clumsy 
spectacles again to read a duskier page of later 
date. Her greatest pleasure was to talk of the old 
laurel-crowned times : and a curious struggle ex- 
isted between her worldly pride in these remem- 
brances and her consciousness that the present 
obscurity of Olympiads life, away in Germany mar- 
ried to a poor physician, was best both for her 
temporal and eternal happiness. 

These were some extracts from the cherished let- 
ter, after an account of the siege of Schweinfurth 
and her husband's settlement as professor in 
Heidelberg : 

"In England also I hear that the pious are 
much afflicted" (written in 1554, when Mary Tu- 
dor had commenced lighting the Smithfield fires), 
" so that whoever wishes to be a Christian must 
bear with him his cross in all places. Indeed, I 
would rather endure any evils in the cause of 
Christ than possess the whole world without him : 
nor do I desire anything more than him. One 
thing I implore, that God may bestow on me 
constancy arid faith, even unto the end: I con- 
tinually pour out my soul to him ; nor is it in vain, 
for I feel myself so strengthened and supported 


that I would not yield even a hair's breadth in his 
cause. . . . My sister, I again beseech you to have 
more fear of that Being who by a word created 
the universe than of powerless creatures of clay, 
or of the aspect of this world, whether threatening 
or smiling/ 7 

Few knew more of it in both aspects than the 
gifted writer. Her letter ended with the commen- 
dation, " Farewell, and overcome, my dearest Yit- 
toria!" Verily Olympia was changed since her 
days of declaiming before the Ferrarese court, 
when the turning of a Greek strophe was her chief 
object in life. She had made the glorious dis- 
covery that the foolishness of Christ's gospel was 
nobler than the wisdom of the world. 

The widow's thoughts had sundry times wan- 
dered from even these precious letters and remains 
to her waiting supper, as testified by various inter- 
jections with reference to the delay of the honour- 
able signors they expected. Before long these last 
arrived. Di Montalto looked brighter than usual. 
An envoy from the palace had sought him, and 
formally presented him with the place of second 
physician to the ducal household. 

" Ah, thou seest the Duchess RenSe did not for- 
get/ 7 exclaimed his wife. " Her protection avail- 


eth much even yet ; and she is so kind, so good !' 7 
For every one knew that ReneVs benefactions to 
the poor and afflicted were of unexampled gene- 
rosity ; and that even at the matter of gifts her 
kind nature did not stop, but was always planning 
for their benefit in other ways. 

" And I also have news for thee, madonna/ 7 said 
Dame Lucrezia's son-in-law, "at least whatever 
tidings is contained in that/ 7 laying before her a 
slight packet wound round with silken thread. 
" A messenger from Lucca, bringing advices to the 
Jew banker in the Piazza, brought that among 
them. 77 

It contained money sent by the beloved Olym- 
pia, gathered from her poor income at Heidelberg, 
and remitted to one Thomas of Lucca for behoof 
of her mother. The said Jew banker would pay 
gold-pieces to the order which Dame Lucrezia 
Morata was to present him with. And a short 
letter in the dear, beautiful handwriting, accom- 
panied the filial tribute a letter which she was 
afraid might fall into unkindly hands, the wording 
was so cautious, and no friend specially mentioned. 
She was aware that the mere name of one so cele- 
brated for persistent heresy as herself might draw 
on the correspondent trouble from the Inquisition. 


The floodgates of the poor mother's heart were 
opened afresh ; and glad tears wetted the short, 
vague, constrained note which Olympia's hand had 
touched. Ah ! could she have seen the vacant, 
desolate home at Heidelberg this very Christmas 
eve ! Could she have seen the heart-broken hus- 
band of her adored child going about his duties 
mechanically through a plague-stricken city, and 
with the seeds of death lodged already in his 
frame ; turning ofttimes into the graveyard of St. 
Peter's church, where lay buried the remains of 
her who was his very life of life ! A merciful 
veil of time arid distance hung between the be- 
reaved mother and that reality. 

But thus was it torn away. Olympia died in 
October ; and such was the slowness of communi- 
cation in those days, such also the unwillingness of 
friends in Germany to impart the sad news, that up 
to the middle of January, 1556, it had not reached 
Ferrara. Then, came the fatal missive from Bale. 

Some speculation took place before the sheet 
was opened as to whose writing addressed the 
exterior. It was not Andreas Griinthler's, and 
certainly not Olympia's own. Peregrina, looking 
over her mother's shoulder, read the uppermost 
line of the letter as follows : 


" Celio Secondo Curione, to the most excellent 
dame Lucrezia Morata, wisheth health." 

" Ah, dear mother, thou seest how needless was 
thy fear I" she said, with a caress. u A letter from 
my father's oldest friend, the professor of Roman 
eloquence at Bale University: perchance he hath 
some studentship for our Emilio, or hath late tid- 
ings of our Olympia. Read, dear mother, read." 

" If I have seldom written to you, Lucrezia," so 
ran the letter " you whom I cherish as a sister 
you must regard it as a sad effect of the disturb- 
ances of our time, and not as flowing from forget- 
fulness of your former kindness. I shall always 
remember the good offices which you rendered me 
during the life of your husband Fulvio, when 
your house was my asylum." 

" Ay, ay," said the widow, " but my poor Fulvio 
was kind to him ; though he considered it only the 
discharge of a debt, since from Curione he had 
learned the Reformed faith when in exile at Ver- 
celli before you were born, child. And that time, 
when the pope threatened to excommunicate the 
University of Pavia on his account, he had to fly 
to Venice, and thence here. I remember my Ful- 
vio's letter inviting him, as if it was written 
yesterday ; and our Oylmpia was then but a grow- 


ing girl, beautiful and learned beyond her years ; 
and Curione taught her much." 

Then came fresh reminiscences of that period of 
Olympiads glory the noontide splendour to which 
the poor widow so often reverted, as the eyes of a 
person who has passed from light into obscurity 
love to gaze back at a former brilliance on 
his path. 

" But, dear mother, wilt thou not read ?" said 
the half-impatient Peregrina. 

What gloom of foreboding, inexplicable save by 
the mysterious intimations which we sometimes 
seem to have of approaching calamity, grew over 
the mother and daughter even before that letter 
was perused? Curione went on to narrate some 
of Olympia's trials and difficulties, merging thence 
into a reflection on the fleeting nature of all 
earthly joys; contrasting them with the fixed and 
perfect glories of the eternal life laid up in heaven, 
which is the perpetual aspiration and earnest 
desire of the Christian soul. It had been Olym- 
pia's often-expressed and fervent wish to depart 
and be with Christ her Redeemer. 

Peregrina need scarce have read further, but the 
next lines told how the dear, suffering Olympia 
had gained her highest bliss. " God has taken 


her from the arms of the tenderest husband, and 
permitted her peacefully to depart to heaven ; has 
transported her into his glory, where only is happi- 
ness worthy of the name that happiness which 
she always desired." 

Not for days afterward could the poor mother 
receive the sequel of the consolation which Curione 
had penned. How cold and measured were the 
warmest words of sympathy in the bitter hour of 
bereavement ! 

" If we think only of ourselves," he wrote, " we 
cannot be too much afflicted at having lost her ; 
but if we compare the felicity she enjoys with the 
miseries of this life, we shall find cause for thank- 
fulness as well as consolation. The Olympia 
whom we loved is not dead : she lives with Jesus 
Christ, happy and immortal ; after the storms of 
her earthly destiny she dwells safe in the haven 
of an eternal repose !" 

Her poor husband had requested of Curione, as 
one who loved and valued the gifted dead, and who 
was intimately acquainted with the whole family, 
to break the sad tidings to her mother. His letter 
is a model of its kind for caution, and tenderness, 
and piety. It arrived in Ferrara much about the 
time- that the heart-broken husband of Olympia 


arid her young brother Emilio lay dead together 
of the plague in Heidelberg. 

Thus one of the brightest stars sparkling in the 
dawn of the Italian Reformation set to the earthly 
horizon, only to shine in a more glorious firmament 
for ever and ever. 



'HE Reformed party in Ferrara dared not 
worship openly at this period. Upper cham- 
bers and subterranean vaults were their 
cathedrals the place of gathering changed each 
meeting for greater security; for the argus-eyed 
Inquisition was abroad. 

None of our safe English Sabbaths for these 
pioneers of Italian Reformation, but a skulking 
through by-places at early or late hours, with a 
consciousness that every man's hand was against 
them, and that the forbidden luxury of united 
prayer might be paid for with their lives. Would 
our churches be crowded if such were the terms of 
fellowship ? It is good sometimes to glance back 
at the dark places of the past, and contrast other 
men's privations with our privileges, purchased for 
us through blood and fire in these same years 

Let us visit one of these dangerous gatherings, 
which the archbishop of the Ferrarese diocese 



knows well to exist, though he cannot lay his 
crosier thereon to crush them, for want of definite 
information. Spies are dispersed everywhere, com- 
missioned traitors empowered to scent out heresy 
anyhow, to work into unsuspecting confidences, to 
assume any character, to commit any baseness, so 
only they bring fuel to the fires of the Holy Office. 
Many an incautious speaker has thus been haled to 
prison, and many a heedless liver, who neglected 
the sacrament of penance, been stimulated to ful- 
filment of a duty so dangerous when left undone; 
and many who felt themselves unsound in theology 
have fled to territories where the argus eye is not 
quite so penetrating ; for some have been tor- 
tured, some banished, some put to death, by the 
sacred tribunal, acting on the information of its 
flying squadron of spies. The external uniformity 
of Ferrarese faith is quite edifying of late. 

But, not a bowshot from the sumptuous Basilica 
del Spirito Santo all whose bells are ringing forth 
this noontide, and priests crowding about its vari- 
ous altars, clothed in purple and fine linen within 
the unacknowledged sanctuary of a humble room, 
two or three are met together in the name of 
Christ. Very apostolic is the danger and the 
obscurity of their assemblage. These tasteless 


sectaries have passed by the great folding doors of 
the basilica, whence issue faint odours of perfumed 
incense and full echoes of most harmonious 
chanted masses ; and have chosen, instead of that 
rich ritual, the unadorned speaking, the fervid 
supplication, the reading from a Bible in common 
words, which are the sole forms of devotion in 
their heretic meetings. Raise their voices in a 
hymn they dare not. But He who stood in the 
midst of the gathered apostles when " the doors 
were shut for fear of the Jews/ 7 was surely present 
in this perilous place of prayer, breathing on his 
servants the priceless gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Truly were the inspired words here fulfilled: 
" Not many mighty, not many noble, are called." 
Poor and unattractive were the few who held fast 
through much tribulation, and counted the re- 
proach of Christ better than the world's smiles. 
A renegade monk was to preach, who had lately 
escaped from prison at Bologna, and was hiding in 
Duke Ercole's territories. A beaten, hunted man 
he looked, but vehement with the enthusiasm of 
persecution ; his eye had an almost startling glare 
perhaps from having for months viewed the 
blazing pile of martyrdom not a day's length away 
in possibility. Ascetic and haggard in his coun- 


tenance, and his words weighty, drawn from the 
depths of a rare experience of suffering and of 
spiritual support. 

The old doctrine he chooses to discourse upon, 
the key-note of the Reformation justification by 
faith in Christ's merits only. Twice it has nigh 
cost the intrepid monk his life ; and so it is most 
dear to him, as an imperilled treasure is cherished 
by men specially. 

Afterward he gives to the little audience, who 
drink in his words with eager ears no listless at- 
tention there, good reader ! no wandering thoughts 
or abstracted eyes ! the renegade monk gives them 
some account of the Church of God in Bologna, 
whence he has just escaped. Ten years ago it 
numbered many thousand converts, including some 
of the highest names at the university. The dis- 
turbance had begun by the Minorite friar Mollio's 
lectures on the Epistles of Paul ; for which the 
said friar was cited to Rome, and defended himself 
so ably that the judges appointed by Pope Paul 
III. to try him were forced to acquit him of the 
charge of heresy, declaring that the doctrines he 
taught were true, though not such as could be pub- 
licly promulgated without injury to the apostolic 
see ! for before Romish error was irrevocably 


fixed by the canons of the Council of Trent, some 
latitude of belief was permitted in theory ; at least, 
a loophole of escape might thus be open to the 

" Ah ! woe is me/ 7 said our monk further, " that 
I stood beside the same Frate Giovanni Mollio 
before the congregation of the Holy Office in Rome, 
and that I witnessed his good confession, without 
sharing it ! For tremours of the flesh came over 
me, and my heart sank from the long imprison- 
ment in noisome dungeons, and I was not clear in 
the truth then, as I am now; and the evil one 
whispered to me of the agonies of death and the 
sweetness of life. I was among those that re- 
canted,'" added the monk in a lower tone, and 
drooping his head with abasement. " Only two 
stood firm of all who held the death-torches in 
that dismal procession. The Frate Giovanni had 
leave to speak to his articles of accusation ; they 
hoped he would have given them the triumph of 
yielding ; but no : he defended his heresies most 
boldly, no whit abashed by the six illustrious car- 
dinals and the episcopal assessors. Nay, he even 
declared the power of the pope to be antichristian, 
and derived from the devil. ' If you cardinals 
and bishops/ said he, holding the torch aloft ' if 


your power was from God, then your doctrine and 
life would resemble those of the apostles. But 
now your Church is a receptacle of thieves and a 
den of robbers, overspread everywhere with false- 
hood and profaneness. Your great object is to 
seize and amass wealth by every species of injustice 
and cruelty. You thirst without ceasing for the 
blood of the saints. Can you be the successors of 
the holy apostles, the vicars of Jesus Christ you 
who despise Christ and his word, who act as if 
you did not believe there is a God in heaven, who 
persecute to the death his faithful ministers ?' ?; 

A low, deep hum of approbation from the audi- 
ence, whose eyes were sparkling assent to these 
daring sentiments of the martyr. The monk 
paused, that the effervescence might for the mo- 
ment subside : 

" Dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, I had 
not strength to follow that noble example; for 
which I do most heartily repent, seeing that I 
should now have entered upon that eternal joy 
which the good Frate Giovanni has these two 
years experienced in the presence of the most 
blessed Christ and his angels. Mea culpa, mea 
maxima culpa ! I am not worthy to minister unto 
the Church of the most high God. But further, 


the Frate said words like these; for I was by 
holding ray torch while he spoke: 'I appeal 
from your sentence, O cruel tyrants and murderers ! 
I summon you to appear before the judgment-seat 
of Christ at the last day, and answer for your 
deeds where your pompous titles and gorgeous 
trappings will not dazzle us, nor your guards and 
tortures terrify us ! And in testimony take back 
what you have given me;' herewith he flung the 
flaming torch on the ground and extinguished it. 
The cardinals ordered him and another who was 
equally steadfast instantly to the fire ; and so he 
entered heaven that same day from the Campo del 

With breathless interest had the narrative been 
followed by the hearers. It was a case which 
might any day be theirs ; no old-world story, 
looked back to from a safe distance of centuries, 
but duplicate transactions were each week taking 
place throughout Italy. The professor Franciscus 
Portus, who was present, had known the Minorite 
Mollio as a celebrated teacher in the universities 
of Milan and Pavia, as well as of Bologna ; he 
had read his commentary on Genesis, which was 
composed while in prison at Rome. 

" My brother," said the professor, rising and lay- 



ing his hand on the monk's shoulder, " not to every 
man is martyr's grace given. Thou hast done well 
to confess thy fault, and the gracious Lord has 
surely forgiven thee. His mercy endureth for 
ever. Wherefore be not downhearted, but for the 
future use thy gifts to the edifying of the Church 
of God ; so shalt thou purchase to thyself a good 
degree. Thou hast heard of the blessed Faven- 
tino Fannio, who suffered here in the piazza of 
Ferrara ? He had an hour of weakness like thine, 
when his young wife and his friends persuaded him 
to deny Christ ; but he was miserable till he again 
confessed him, and did his best to repair the error 
by sowing the truth through the Romagna. Some 
here,' 7 added Portus, looking round the room, 
" knew him well, and learned the knowledge of 
salvation from his lips, even in his prison." 

Yes : one had been confined for a crime, and by 
Fannio's teaching had been brought to sin no 
more; another had visited him from the pious 
motive of trying to controvert his errors, and been 
himself drawn into them beyond remedy ; others 
had read letters of his issuing from his cell of 
solitary confinement, and by them been freed into 
the glorious liberty of the gospel. Truly Rome 
was wise to put out of the way the author of so 


much damage to her empire, whose efforts to spread 
divine truth ceased but with his mortal breath. 

" And if he glorified God by after life, why 
mayest not thou?" continued Portus. "Dying 
for Christ is not always the best way of serving 
him ; if all his confessors were martyred, would 
truth be found upon the earth ? Wherefore be of 
good courage, brother ; thou hast work to do for the 
Master yet." 

The monk raised his hollow eyes, which had been 
hidden by his hand. " There is forgiveness with 
him, that he may be feared," he murmured. " And 
oh, brother, I have had a bitter repentance since !" 

When he had returned to his Bolognese convent 
with the ban of the Inquisition upon him and 
many irksome penances to perform, such as car- 
rying heavy tapers for hours about the church and 
in street processions, dressed as a penitent ; or ly- 
ing for hours in the form of a cross, extended on 
the stone pavement before our Lady's altar ; or re- 
peating hundreds of aves and credos, and dozens 
of penitential psalms within a given time ; or pass- 
ing days in darkness and solitude in subterranean 
cells beneath the monastery, he found these acts 
of enforced mortification an intolerable dissembling. 
The solitary hours which his spiritual overseers 


intended him to spend in meditation on his here- 
sies were indeed so spent, but with a difference. 
The doctrines which were the convictions of his 
soul came again uppermost, and demanded their 
supremacy. A season of deep depression for his 
sin was followed by another sight of the Lord 
Jesus as the pardoner for his own sake ; and the 
renegade monk found it impossible to continue to 
appear what his heart disavowed. After some 
lengthened imprisonment for his lapse, he was per- 
mitted to escape by connivance of the civil au- 
thorities, who, in Bologna, preserved some tra- 
ditions of former freedom, and did not always 
allow the Inquisitors to ride roughshod over them, 
but were capable of being visited by an occasional 
impulse of human pity ; for the doublet and hose 
of the laic covered charities and sympathies wholly 
unknown to the priestly heart. 

Such was the story of the renegade monk a 
story far from uncommon with pliant natures and 
tender, nervous temperaments, who grasped a be- 
lief without being able physically to brave the 
suffering it entailed. Yet by drawing back in the 
hour of trial they incurred mental torture worse 
than the bodily a torture whence some of them 
gladly rushed for refuge even to rack and stake 


again, rather than face the endless anguish of re- 

One or two other brethren spoke afterward. 
The subject of the address of the last an old, 
white-haired man leaning on a stick was the 
suggestive expression of Scripture: "As when a 
standard-bearer fainteth." 

"My brethren," he said, "I remember when I 
was a young man, in wars which are now forgotten, 
as all the pomp and pageants of this world pass 
away I mind me, when in battle he who bore the 
banner fell, it was as though the army was routed, 
for its ensign of victory was gone! But if he had 
only fainted through the sore burden, and arose 
again, raising his standard, or if a stronger hand 
drew it from his weak grasp, and upheld it in 
sight of friend and foe, then arose a shout from the 
ranks ; for the old flag was floating once more, and 
all remembered that the general who led the army 
was still at its head. My brethren, it is so with 
us: our standard-bearer hath for the moment 
fainted and the banner lies low; shall we there- 
fore be dispirited? No, comrades, for the great 
Captain never leaves our van; and the standard 
will be lifted by some stronger hand, though I 
may not live to see it." 


All understood the old soldier's allusion to the 
drawing back of the Duchess Rene"e under the 
threats of her husband, and his words deeply 
moved the little assemblage. His voice, which 
had deepened into energy as he spoke, broke again 
into trembling accents when he resumed : 

" I have lived many years in the world years 
before the infamous Borgia sat upon Peter's 
throne and I remember the time when Italy lay 
black as a -moonless midnight in the thickest 
darkness of ignorance. I was here in the days of 
Ercole the First, when all the great streets of 
Ferrara were built. I remember when none in all 
Italy dare wag his tongue against priest or friar 
when they did what they liked, and lived how 
they chose, and the blessed word of God was never 
heard of. I suppose the monks had it locked up 
safely, out of the way. At last a monk got at it, 
and he was honester than the rest, and he spoke 
about the wonderful things in the book. But they 
burned him because he would not be silent. His 
name was Savonarola : he was born here in 
Ferrara, I have heard old people say. He was 
the first dawn of the light, blessed be God! The 
light has been all over Italy since. My com- 
rades, we are not to be cast down when the stand- 


ard-bearer faints. My grandson read that for me 
from the good book; I thought it like ourselves; 
I thought I would say a few words about it, as I 
am a very old man. We will fight on, comrades." 

He sat down again. Ah, that the great Duch- 
ess Rene"e should deserve such a censure, and 
should give such discouragement to the people of 
the Lord! 

The little prayer-meeting presently dispersed, its 
members dropping away in twos and threes at in- 
tervals, and taking unfrequented paths back into 
the wider thoroughfares. A knot of half a dozen 
remained to witness the betrothal of Bianca di 
Montalto to the young physician Francesco 



ND now to seek for a home to shelter that 
dear one who would entrust herself to him 
all the world over a home in which they 
might with peace worship God as their consciences 
directed them. Where, through the length and 
breadth of tormented, restless, priest-ridden Italy, 
was such a spot to be found? 

Francesco had been to Venice seeking it, 
though ostensibly bound on other errands. He 
imagined that in his native republic he might find 
protection for the faith which was incorporate with 
his life. He knew that the signory had never per- 
mitted the establishment of the Inquisition as a 
domestic institution within their territories; he 
had himself been brought up at Vicenza and 
Padua, where were flourishing Reformed churches, 
which no man made afraid in those days. The 
wide commerce of Venice made liberty of speech 
and of thought wellnigh a state necessity in her 
cosmopolitan society. Her Senate was aware of 


PADUA. 233 

this, and was very slow to lay an iron yoke of 
Rome's forging on the people's neck. Powers civil 
and ecclesiastic did not pull together to accomplish 
this end, but for a long time pulled most contrari- 
wise. A papal rescript complained to the doge 
that the magistrates of Vicenza would not aid their 
bishop in extirpating heresy, but rather connived 
at the scandal. Alas! that blot of toleration was 
now removed from the Venetian scutcheon. The 
Reformed churches had been scattered, broadcast,- 
into many lands. The Lutheran was become as 
much a fair object of chase and of cruelty on 
Venetian soil as elsewhere, though up to this 
time no lives had been sacrificed to the demon of 

But the thin edge of the wedge had been intro- 
duced into the state; Roman artifices had procured 
the admission of inquisitors as judges in all cases 
of heresy, with the saving clause that certain civil 
magistrates should always be present at such trials 
to examine witnesses and scrutinize the whole pro- 
cedure. Under this joint jurisdiction, neverthe- 
less, the galleys were pretty well replenished with 
heretics; there was soon no spot in the republic's 
provinces safe for the sole of a Lutheran foot. 

Francesco found his brother living still at Padua, 


holding an office in the university, and reputably 
veiling his opinions by an occasional hearing of 
mass and a regular payment of dues. " What can 
I do?" he said; "behold my little children !" 

"And our mother, Giuseppe our mother, de- 
scended from the purest blood of the Vaudois, who 
have held God's truth as an heirloom through 
generations what would she say could she know 
of the weak compliance ?" 

" My poor little children !" was all Giuseppe's 

But there was in this temporizing something far 
more excusable than in that of the physician Di 
Montalto, personal selfishness being the main- 
spring of the latter. 

It set Francesco deeply thinking whether, in 
these perilous times, he would do right to encum- 
ber his fate with a wife, however beloved. How 
much stronger, then, would be his bonds to the 
present evil world ! How much harder would he 
find it to bear testimony for his Saviour, even to 
the death, if needed ! Would it be just to her to 
ask her to link her life with one in frequent danger, 
in continual poverty ? For his patrimony was but 
small, and unless he settled in some great town, 
under a great patron, his profession would prove 

PADUA. 235 

little resource ; and he could not live in a public 
position without his religion attracting notice. 
Alas ! those were times when the dearest relations 
of life only exposed the followers of Christ to the 
intenser suffering. 

"Thou seest, my brother," pursued Giuseppe, 
breaking in upon the young man's reverie " thou 
seest that the blessed Lord, having given me these 
children, doth not intend that I should fail in duty 
toward them by leaving them orphans prematurely. 
He intendeth that I should train them up in his 
nurture and fear, which I am doing, God wot! 
And when thou hast wife and little ones thyself, 
my Francesco, thou wilt not think evil of the out- 
ward compliance which gaineth for them bread 
and home." 

" I would ask thee a question, Giuseppe mio. 
Is it now with thee as in days past ? Hast thou 
the heavenly presence in thine heart strongly as 
when we both lingered before Ochino's pulpit and 
heard words of life from his lips ?" 

" It was excitement," said the other, yet with a 
somewhat averted glance " it was but excitement, 
and youth's blood is easily made hot. And if thou 
wantest examples," he added, with alacrity, " have 
we not in this very city Pietro Carnesecchi, the 


Florentine, keeping his opinions quiet for his 
safety's sake ?" 

This was not altogether the case. Carnesecchi 
had been a wanderer in many lands for Christ's 
sake before he settled in Padua about 1552. 
Savoy and France had successively yielded him 
asylum ; and he who was once so influential at the 
papal court that a proverb ran "The Church is 
governed rather by Carnesecchi than by Pope 
Clement/' was a persecuted, homeless man, in 
daily dread, at the present juncture, of a monitory 
summons to appear at Rome and give himself up 
to the most furiously bigoted pontiff that had ever 
sat under the tiara. But he was prepared for the 
worst, this gentle, amiable, accomplished Floren- 
tine this man with such refined tastes, such dis- 
tinguished appearance, such courtly manners, who 
had been lapped in the luxuries of high estate 
until the heresy blasted his prospects, and caused 
men to consider his wisdom folly and his sobriety 
madness. Twelve years from the present date, 
that is to say, in 1567, his long imprisonment in 
Roman dungeons ended, and the block and stake 
give him eternal freedom. 

" And does Carnesecchi compromise so far as to 
attend the idolatrous mass?" asked Francesco. 

PADUA. 237 

Brother Giuseppe, colouring, could not assert that 
he did, but then he held no public employment ; 
and more than all, the little children must live. 

Francesco said nothing further on the subject, 
though strongly into his mind came the Redeemer's 
declaration, " Whosoever shall confess me before 
men, him will I also confess before my Father which 
is in heaven ; but whosoever shall deny me before 
men, him will I also deny before my Father 
which is in heaven." 

May we all remember that even in our en- 
lightened nineteenth century the force of this 
passage remains the same, and the need for our ful- 
filment of the great duty it enjoins. Still must 
we confess Christ before men, unheeding smile or 
sneer, if we would share in his glory at the last. 

"Giuseppe mio," asked Francesco, by and by, 
" I would fain learn something of our uncle, Bal- 
dassare Altieri he who was secretary to the English 
embassy. Have there been late tidings of him? 
Tell me what thou knowest." 

" No late tidings," replied his brother ; " I fear 
me he has fallen into the hands of his enemies. 
He was hiding in the Brescian territory when we 
last heard, and his letter said that he was there in 
great trouble and danger of his life. We know," 


cautious Giuseppe spoke very softly, with a fur- 
tive glance at the closed door of the apartment, 
" that the Holy Office has spies everywhere, 
and scarce a dog can run across a road in 
Italy but they know it. Therefore I believe that 
our good uncle has been tracked and seized : we 
shall never hear of him again. For ofttimes, when 
they cannot punish a heretic with impunity at any 
particular city, they convey him secretly to some 
other, where he is unknown, or to Rome itself, 
where the whole world might seek for him in vain." 
All his caution could not suppress a little shudder, 
as the ubiquity of the selfsame Holy Office oc- 
curred to him forcibly. He would go to hear 
mass the very next day, would Giuseppe, further to 
lull suspicion ; nay, he wondered if it would not 
be good policy to make some sort of confession to 
some friar or other ? This was an undercurrent of 
thought. Aloud, he was saying, " Had our good 
uncle stayed among the Grisons, he would be safe ; 
that was my advice to him. He had made him- 
self too remarkable to return to Venice with 
impunity ; the magistrates could scarce do anything 
else than demand a recantation, and condemn him 
to exile when he refused. You see, brother Fran- 
cesco, had he followed my plan " 

PADUA. 239 

tl I never quite understood," interposed the other, 
u why he went into the Grison country at that 

" He wanted to get the agency of the cantons, as 
he already held that of the Elector of Saxony and 
other Lutheran princes, at Venice : he thought he 
could then bring their influence to bear in favour 
of the Protestants. But he only succeeded in get- 
ting letters of commendation in behalf of the perse- 
cuted, which caused him much disappointment. 
Passing through Padua on his way hack, he told 
me that he knew of the designs of his enemies, 
and how much he was hated by the papal party in 
Venice : he foreboded the worst, and asked our 
prayers. When I besought him to attend to his 
private affairs, and provoke none by an undue dis- 
play of zeal for thou knowest, brother, that he 
had a wife and child dependent on him he replied, 
somewhat hotly, ' God forbid that I should enter- 
tain the blasphemous thought of ceasing to labour 
for Christ, who never ceased labouring in my cause 
until he had endured the reproach of the cross. I 
am ready to meet whatever may befall me, and 
willing to be bound for the name of Christ.' He 
was always a trifle too impetuous, was our worthy 


Francesco did not care to controvert the opinion ; 
he knew how that alleged impetuosity ranked in 
the estimate of Heaven. But from that hour to 
the present nothing further was ever heard of the 
intrepid Baldassare Altieri ; he probably perished 
in nameless martyrdom ; but is not " the death of 
his saints" "precious" in the eyes of the Lord? 
And shall not the smallest particle of their dust, 
whether dispersed in ashes over a flowing tide, or 
walled up in a black, forgotten dungeon, or sleep- 
ing peacefully in our quiet English churchyards, 
be raised again in glory at the last day? 

Padua was no place for him to settle; Francesco 
came to that conclusion. The other conclusion to 
which he was coming, that this restless era was 
no time for him to marry, lasted in force till he 
arrived at Ferrara again. After a few days he 
became convinced that with a beloved wife he could 
better stand the brunt of every storm likely to assail 
him ; and as another person was of the same 
opinion, the result was the betrothal by the rene- 
gade monk before mentioned. 



'HAT was a betrothal shadowed by many an 
anxious doubt and fear. For to the followers 
of Christ in the Reformation of the sixteenth 
century every relationship of life, even the sweet- 
est, became embittered. Parent looked anxiously 
on child, because not the tenderest years could dis- 
arm the rage of persecution or stay the assassin's 
hand if once let loose to shed Protestant blood ; 
husband and wife knew that their bond of union 
might at any moment be severed by the sword ; 
the lover and his betrothed dare not yield to the 
happy anticipations natural to their estate, for were 
they not of a proscribed race, to whom the face of 
the earth seemed to offer no safe resting-place? 
Perhaps their hearts were all the more in heaven. 

Di Mont-alto did not very much relish his 
daughter's choice in the present juncture of cir- 
cumstances. Any tacit encouragement formerly 
given to the affair when they lived at Locarno had 
arisen from a half-formed idea that this young man, 

16 241 


of good character, would be a suitable partner and 
successor for himself in his " practice," as a modern 
physician would term it. But now, when the 
family was living on his precarious gains in a 
foreign city (and the professions were just as over- 
stocked in those days as they are now, and there 
was as little opening for a new leech in Ferrara as 
in any English country town which boasts the 
usual staff of physician, surgeon and a couple of 
chemists), and when young Altieri was totally 
without employment, and with but a small sum of 
money in the celebrated Bank of Venice for his 
patrimony the elder physician very naturally 
thought that circumstances looked rather gloomy 
for a betrothal. Like all other fathers, he would 
fain have seen something tangible for the young 
pair to live upon before they contemplated house- 
keeping. However, the preliminary ceremony of 
betrothal did not of necessity imply subsequent 
marriage, and Di Montalto was an easy-going man, 
addicted to the laissez faire: he permitted it to 
take place, but, rather sulkily, so managed his 
employments for the day that he could not be 

No rosy horizon opened forth before these be- 
trothed ones, as they returned quietly through the 


quaint streets from standing before the renegade 
monk. No troops of friends escorted them, nor 
was a feast prepared in celebration ; no festal gar- 
lands, no picturesque scene-work, as fete-loving 
Italians are wont to arrange round every available 
occasion in their lives. A looker-on would have 
said, u How sombre !" The Ferrarese maidens of 
Bumca's acquaintance did say, " How stupid !" 
There was no end to the decorations and junket- 
ings they would have had ! But these " novatori," 
you know, these " infected" people, are so queer, 
so different from everybody else ! None could see 
the wellspring of tranquil happiness that lay deep 
in those newly-united hearts ; only each knew it of 
the other, and was satisfied. 

One or two friends, also " infected" people, came 
to sup with the promessi sposi and their parents ; 
chief of them the Madonna Morata, her daughter and 
son-in-law, the Milanese gentleman who had asked 
no dower with his wife, because his own means 
were enough. But Francesco had dower neither 
to get nor to give. A most improvident match, 
surely ! Even the usual chestsful of clothes and 
jewelry would probably be wanting to this poor 
pair. Any gossips of Dame Barbara's acquaint- 
ance in Ferrara held but the one opinion on the 


matter; and such topics were just as interesting to 
the female mind then as now. 

Di Montalto was thinking some desponding 
thoughts about it when he came into his house in 
the afternoon ; for since the court appointment he 
had succeeded in obtaining a roof of his own. 
He set himself moodily to inscribe some manu- 
script by the window, not heeding Bianca's pre- 
sence till she drew near to him and stood by his 
chair : 

"Father! will you not speak to me on this 

Tears were in her eyes and in her voice as she 
spoke : he looked up suddenly : " Child ! what 
would you have ?" 

He laid by the great goosequill which he was 
dipping in the inkhorn, rose to his feet and blessed 
her solemnly ; then kissed her brow. It was an 
age when the reverence of children to parents was 
carried to a pitch of obsequiousness which seems 
most strange to this free-and-easy generation. Bi- 
anca durst not even return the caress, though her 
heart yearned to her father. 

" And now, child, for this foolish lover of thine. 
I met him in the street but anon I gave him my 
benediction also ; though I could wish thou wert 


to marry a man more settled in the world, mia 
figlia, and able to take thee under a roof-tree of 
thine own. I suppose thou thinkest thy Francesco 
fortune and dower enough ? Well, so said thy 
mother in the day of our espousal ; and I know 
not whether she has repented her trust." 

Plucking that grizzled beard as he spoke, and 
looking furtively, for he could not but guess that 
many a time of late he had been a sore cross to his 
bolder-minded wife, while he was trying to walk 
as no time-server has ever yet succeeded in walk- 
ing one foot in the narrow and another in the 
broad way. 

" But it is certain," added the physician, rous- 
ing himself, and his face changing into sternness, 
" that marriage for you both is out of the question, 
till Altieri can show me a home for thee, Bianca 
mia." He kissed her again, but with rather a 
chillier touch, and resumed his quill and horn 
over the parchment, of the manuscript he was 

Presently thereafter arrived the widow Morata ; 
and Di Montalto received her with his best affa- 
bility. Men of his character have a strong regard 
for external advantages of any sort, and prefer these 
even in the past tense to the undistinguished indi- 


viduals who have never had them at all. The halo 
of the lost court-life surrounded this faded woman 
even still in the eyes of the Locarnese physician. 
And while the newly-affianced pair were talking 
low apart, the elders were travelling back over 
times when things were very different in Ferrara, 
and when that Reformed faith which now was a 
bar was a passport to the favour of the reigning 

"But/' quoth Di Montalto, "the Church had 
not then decided as to whether many of Luther's 
doctrines were to be believed or not. Now this 
council of the fathers at Trent is settling every- 
thing: methinks it were not just to censure men 
for espousing opinions which had never been con- 
demned by the Church. How is a man to know 
whether faith or works is the justifier, unless the 
Church will speak plain?" 

His wife looked at him half sorrowfully : was 
expedience then to be the sole rule of faith ? But 
she said nothing, and he took care not to glance 
toward her as he added, "The Almighty knows 
that we are often obliged to put on an appearance 
of believing what we don't believe ; but he is most 
merciful, and looks more to one's heart than to 
one's knees." 


"Yet the blessed Lord was not pleased when 
San Pietro denied him three times ; and San Pietro 
would perchance not have denied him had he not 
been sitting familiarly among the servants of his 
enemies," said the dame Lucrezia Morata; who 
was in her heart somewhat disposed to contemn the 
cringing principles of the physician, and had more- 
over a womanly sympathy for her friend, his wife. 
Well she guessed what her decision of spirit must 
suffer, mated with his indecision her heart, full 
of fervour, yoked to his timid, calculating brain. 
But this unsuitability was Dame Barbara's private 
cross, which she revealed to none by word or act. 

Before long the physician betook himself again 
to his manuscript of medical secrets, bequeathed 
to him from his master in the art thirty years ago, 
who again inherited it from his, a generation 
farther back. For these ever-during parchments 
had not yet been quite superseded by the compara- 
tively ephemeral printed books. Look over Di 
Montalto's shoulder, and you, graduate of our 
modern colleges, will strangely despise the lore 
therein presented with all gravity. " Pulverized 
human bones' 7 is an article constantly recurring in 
the pharmacopoeia; much is written of the virtues 
of eggshells and sodden snails. " The toad's stone" 


is a specific against poison, and stanches blood 
when all other styptics fail; daisy-tea cures gout 
and rheumatism; and for almost every ailment 
the earliest remedy is letting blood ; which, indeed, 
is of greatest repute in Italian medical practice to 
this day. Then there are no end of prescriptions 
for charms and amulets; for a drink to make 
splintered bones come out of the wound of their 
own accord; a balsam of bats, comprising such in- 
gredients as earth-worms, adders, the marrow of a 
stag, etc. ; and if the amethyst be hung round the 
neck, or, more efficacious still, be powdered into a 
draught, "it resists sorrow and recreates the 
heart ;" the sapphire, similarly used, will yet more 
marvellously operate, by freeing the mind and 
mending the manners. Whence it will appear that 
these sixteenth-century physicians had secrets for 
moral as well as corporeal cures, entering with 
fearless foot upon ground where their modern suc- 
cessors dare not tread. 

The good Doctor di Montalto was known to 
take refuge in this volume, and in noting his 
"cases" on interleaves of paper, whenever per- 
turbed by domestic or other occurrences. Professor 
Portus came in by and by with the latest whisper- 
ings of court news; likewise with an offering of a 


Latin epithalamium, or betrothal ode, to the bride 
elect, whereof she very ignorantly did not com- 
prehend more than a few nouns here and there; 
but could not Francesco translate it for her? 
"Ah," exclaimed the professor, regretfully, "what 
a rare head for polite learning was lost in the 
Signorina Bianca! I could wish she had been at- 
tending my course of readings from Sophocles" a 
desire not echoed by the subject of it. 

The court news was rather important. For on 
dit in the Ferrarese world that Philip II., newly 
ascended on the throne of Spain by the abdication 
of that emperor whose will had been law to half 
Europe for thirty years, was forming a party in 
Italy, clustering round his dependencies of Milan 
and Naples, to counterpoise French influence ; and 
Cosmo de Medici, duke of Tuscany, with Ottavio 
Farnese, duke of Parma, were reported to have 
allied themselves in the design. " And of course," 
said the professor, oracularly, "our Duke Ercole 
goes with his nephew, Henry of France, who is 
leagued hand and glove with his Holiness. More 
clouds and storm for us, poor Lutherans ;" 
whereat his friend, the physician, slightly shivered, 
and complained of a draught of air from the ill- 
fitting leaden casement. 


Bolder hearts than the Locarnese doctor's might 
tremble. Two of the fiercest persecutors ever 
moulded were sitting irresponsibly on the world's 
loftiest thrones, and determined in their unrighte- 
ous hearts to make war on the saints ; whatever 
else disagreed upon, firmly agreed in this, to press 
the iron hoof of uniformity, even to crushing, upon 
the necks of all nations. 

" We have had no war in Lombardy, to speak 
of, since 1552," said Portus, further. " But Paul 
IV., our duke's suzerain, is a very firebrand, old 
as he is enough to set all Italy in a blaze." 

" Ercole is peacefully inclined enough, himself," 
observed Di Montalto. 

" Yes, but he dare not offend his liege lord ; he 
has a good memory, and can recall what his father 
Alfonso suffered from Julius and Clement. Even 
peace' sake may force him into war; but which- 
ever side gain the upper hand, whether Philip or 
Paul, we poor Lutherans are equally in the lurch." 

" ' God is our refuge and strength/ " said Fran- 
cesco, in a low tone to his betrothed ; " l a very 
present help in trouble : therefore will we not fear, 
though the earth be removed.' " 

But a shadow was creeping over Francesco's own 
hopeful heart likewise. 



Of FTER the company had departed that selfsame 
11 shadow wrapped round Di Montalto's mien 

loweringly as he still bent over his chirurgical 

" A word with you, messer, ere you leave/ 7 he 
said, in almost a hostile manner, to Altieri, while 
the goosequill scratched a transcript of some pre- 
scription. It cost Bianca something to retire after 
her mother and leave him to face the brunt of the 
storm alone. 

" And 'tis not just/ 7 she thought in her little 
heart " 'tis not just of my father to have given his 
consent to our betrothal, and now to harass Fran- 
cesco with doubts and fears ; I hope I have not 
done wrong in thinking thus of my father. I hope 
I was right in loving Francesco. Oh I hope it 
is not all, all wrong !" as a hundred irrepressible 
anxieties thronged before her mind, and she threw 
herself on her knees beside her bed, in the small 
cell which was her chamber, where her mother 



found her presently, and comforted her with that 
thoughtful tenderness which reads even unex- 
pressed doubts by the intuition of love. Remem- 
brance of her own maidenhood brought her inter- 
pretation for poor little Bianca's tears. And she 
could repeat to her the oft-told consolation, that 
the heavenly Father above was watching lovingly 
over her and over him, and would guide their 
lives at the last to some perfect end. 

Meanwhile, Francesco was sitting at the table on 
which his patron was writing, without the latter's 
taking heed of him for some space. But the 
puckered lines on his forehead deepened with the 
access of uneasy thoughts. 

" You desired speech with me, signor," said the 
young man, after a pause of watching the slow 
letters as they grew under the quill. 

"Yes," replied the elder, throwing down his 
pen : " I want to know what you will do about 
this betrothal. It is a very foolish business, where 
there is nothing to live upon." 

" Certainly, signor," rejoined the young man, 
with frigid politeness, but a blush mounting to his 
forehead, " I hope that my profession " 

To his amazement, Di Montalto repeated these 
last words, laying most scornful emphasis on 


" hope" and " profession." " You ought to know, 
messer, that no one can live on hopes." 

" Nor do I expect it, signor," said Francesco, 
who grew cooler when he saw the excitement of 
the other ; and under no circumstances could he be 
angry with Bianca's father. " 1 mean to work, 
and to earn a position for myself and for her." 

" Ay, under the ban of the Church, a proscribed 
heretic, with your neck in the noose. A Lutheran, 
with every man's hand against him through the 
wide world !" 

It was very exasperating to a man of no par- 
ticular faith at least of none that had made lodg- 
ment in his heart to find his plans obstructed and 
himself impoverished by the obstinate adherence 
of others to an unprofitable, nay, a positively 
ruinous, heresy. 

" I ought to have withheld my consent," added 
this vacillating and irascible temper, " until some 
better turn in affairs. It is a positive sacrifice of 
the little one's prospects in life. There is a gallant 
at court admires her much." 

" Signer," said Francesco, whose heart was 
growing hot within him, "this is beside the mark. 
What you wish to speak of is the future, not the 
unchangeable past. I purposed to seek for a home 


in the Calabrias, among kinsfolk of my mother, 
until you expressed your disapprobation, and 
desired me to try the expedient of opening classes 
in the languages at this university; but now I 
think of Modena as more suitable, and the worthy 
Professor Franciscus Portus but this day promised 
me patronage of his friends there, he having read 
Greek lectures in that university for many years. " 

The elder physician had time to calm during this 
speech, though he still looked sullen. He had 
been walking about perturbedly ; now he drew 
near and stood : 

" Hearken, my friend. Thou art young, and 
not devoid of talent, which may push thy way to 
the highest chair in the colleges. Why lose thy 
best chances, and doom her to a life of struggle and 
of poverty, because of an open profession of a 
faith which all society disowns ? Why not cloak 
thy creed till happier times shall give liberty ? 
Thy life belongs not now altogether to thyself; 
thou hast pledged it to her: why needlessly risk 
it? Canst not hold thy faith as firm under the 
disguise of an apparent conformity to things indif- 
ferent as if thou wert a mark for the scorn of all 
men a very outcast; and couldst thou bear to 
have her such ?" 


The first words of this artful address had found 
Francesco very resolved : the last words had 
trickled deeply under the foundation of his firm- 
ness ; he drooped his face upon his hands. The 
tempter, encouraged by this symptom of inde- 
cision, went on, touching his shoulder with his 
finger : 

" Conceal thy faith : that is all I would have of 
thee. Heaven forbid that I should ask thee to 
violate thy conscience further. Thou art called to 
no public recantation, no open denial ; thou art 
but entreated by all that is dearest to thee to 
refrain from outward demonstration against the 
Roman creed to purchase thyself an easy life 
ay, my Francesco, and to purchase her a happy 
life by a simple negation, a sinjple abstinence 
from assertion of thy belief or thy non-belief. 
Think well of it, my son, and thou wilt see the 
wisest and kindest course." 

He resumed his walk into the shadows at each 
end of the lank apartment, leaving his words to 
work. But before the shrouded eyes of the young 
man had arisen, during those last sentences, a 
melancholy vision of memory a ghastly face and 
form lying in ever-during mental anguish, lips 
always burning with the thirst, always refusing 


drink, often shaping and uttering the despairing 
words, " My sin is greater than the mercy of God ! 
I have denied Christ voluntarily and against my 
knowledge; and I feel that he hardens me and 
will allow me no hope. Yes, my sin is greater 
than God's mercy." 

Then, for a moment, the closing scenes of that 
sad drama : the slow-decaying atrophy sapping 
life away ; the restless, bloodshot eyes, very homes 
of blank despair ; groups of Romish priests ay, 
up to the purple legate, all powerless to bring an 
instant's consolation ; humble, simply-clad Chris- 
tian men, whose prayers might suffice, like Elijah's, 
to shut or open the windows of heaven, all power- 
less likewise to bring a ray of peace to the apos- 
tate's soul ; and the last supreme hour, when the 
tormented skeleton frame slowly yielded up its 
tormented spirit, with the fearful conviction that, 
as he had rejected Christ, Christ had also for ever 
rejected him. 

Francesco sprang to his feet : 

" No, signor never, never ! I have seen Spira 
the apostate. I beheld him devoured with the 
torments of hell for many miserable months even 
in this world. I was in the church at Citadella," 
he added in a quieter tone, "the day that he 


repeated his abjuration at the close of the mass, 
before two thousand persons, who had often heard 
him preach mightily the doctrines of free grace; 
and I saw him swoon away for very anguish when 
the words were ended. Afterward at Padua I was 
brought to his chamber by one of the many sur- 
geons attendant on him ; it is eight years ago, but 
nothing of yesterday's experience is more vividly 
before me than that haggard, despairing man, a lost 
soul incarnate, ever seeming to have foretaste of 
endless agonies. Present with him continually 
was the judgment day in its worst terrors, and the 
nether hell in its vast despair." 

" A very pretty case of insanity, or, more pro- 
bably, of demoniacal possession," he remarked, 
with affected carelessness, when the speaker paused. 
" The man wanted to be exorcised some witch- 
craft was over him. A very pretty case of in- 
sanity," he remarked again, in a dogged sort of tone, 
as if determined that nothing should convince him 
to the contrary. " I suppose that the upshot of all 
this is that you will not do the sensible thing, but 
are determined to ruin both yourself and the con- 
fiding little one who has trusted herself to you. 
If I foresaw you would have been so headstrong " 

" Signor," interrupted Francesco, respectfully, 

17 - 


" you knew that my principles were fixed on the 
ground of God's word, which is unchangeable. I 
have been brought up in the Eeformed faith, yet 
not for that reason do I adhere to it, but because it 
is the religion of my heart, and because my Saviour, 
the most blessed Christ, has given me the joy of 
his divine love in my soul. Moreover, signer, 
you ask me to do what, were Bianca here, for 
whose sake you urge it, she would be the first to 
forbid and condemn. She would despise me were 
I to stifle or suppress my religion for the sake of 
any worldly advantages. If I mistake her not 
most grievously, she would prefer a poor and nar- 
row home, unpurchased by apostate concessions, to 
the richest palazzo in all Modena, gained by a vir- 
tual denial of our heavenly Lord." 

" Well, well," said the poor, puzzled physician, 
" she will know what she will know, after a few 
years of such sordid life. But it comes to this, 
that between the obstinacy of you three, my house 
is the most ill-smelling* in all Ferrara, and I hope 
I shall be able to keep out of the duke's dun- 
geons. Young people will be so hot and so 
headstrong !" And he muttered further to him- 

* A colloquial expression of the time, signifying tainted 
with heresy. 


self, as he stowed away inkhorn and manuscripts 
in the drawers of a tall beaufet by the wall. 

" I hope I need not say, signer, that I shall run 
myself into no unnecessary danger, and that I 
shall preserve Bianca with all the powers of my 
head and hand from every harm or trouble," quoth 
the newly-affianced, with a very warm glow at his 
heart from the thought of that pleasant duty. " I 
shall strive to obey and to please her father in 
everything which interferes not with the higher 
fealty I owe to my divine Saviour." 

" Well, well," repeated Di Montalto, as if to 
himself, "queer notions are afloat now-a-days. 
Men like to get their heads broken, when they 
might live easy lives. And mine the most ill- 
smelling house in all Ferrara, as the Padre Abbate 
told me but to-day ! Well, well." 

And Bianca heard like mutterings to these as 
she lay awake in her little stone cell, every sense 
watching for the close of the conference, when her 
father came heavily up the narrow steps which 
wound past her door, and another tread passed 
downward into the street. The poor little be- 
trothed prayed for both very fervently. 



| MONTH afterward the new classical teacher 
LI had commenced his lectures at Modena, 
<7] ^ backed by efficient recommendations from the 
learned of Ferrara. Of course he found vested 
interests io oppose him, and would have to work 
his way through the disadvantages of youth and 
an unknown name; but there appeared very reason- 
able prospect of his doing well after a time, pro- 
vided he kept quiet those unfortunate religious 

Almost every city of any note in Northern Italy 
possessed a university in the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries. The age of the "Renaissance" (as it 
was fondly called), the time of the new birth of 
science and the awakening of literature, was dis- 
tinguished by a supreme desire for collegiate edu- 
cation. The scholars of Europe wandered from 
one seat of learning to another, imparting and re- 
ceiving knowledge by turns. A constellation of 
professors gathered at the great schools of Parma, 



Pisa, Florence, Venice, Padua, Mantua, Milan, 
Brescia, and a score others scattered thick through 
Lombardy. And as usual, true learning attended 
true religion as handmaid. The most enlightened 
colleges were those with the greatest names attached 
to their chairs ; most of the Reformed " infection" 
was found where dwelt the highest repute for 
secular knowledge. 

Duke Ercole II., Renee's husband, possessed two 
of these illuminated cities in his small feudatory 
dominions. Both Ferrara and Modena contained 
distinguished universities. But the former was 
declining strangely of late years. It was surely 
singular that from the period when the duke had 
thrown his sword into mother Church's scale, and 
done his best to secure purity and uniformity of 
Catholicism in his capital, the brightest ornament 
of that capital should immediately begin to decline 
and fade. Yet this certainly was the case. Where 
now was the galaxy of genius that had decorated 
the Ferrarese university during the early years of 
ReneVs reign ? Names which wake no echo of 
memory in our nineteenth century then com- 
manded the audience of civilized Europe ; Cal- 
cagnini filling the chair of belles lettres with a 
universality of accomplishments which at our 


present Oxford or Cambridge would excite wonder ; 
Giraldi, the renowned Grecian of vast erudition ; 
Guarini, the grammarian, also the duke's secretary ; 
Bicci, the writer of the best Italian comedy extant, 
tutor to Prince Alfonso ; the brothers Sinapi, pre- 
siding respectively over Greek and medicine ; Celio 
Curione, celebrated for eloquence : all these stars 
glittered in Ferrara before the cloud of bigotry 
blotted out their brightness. For most of them 
were persons of " ill-savour/ 7 suspected of favour- 
ing or else having openly espoused the new Ger- 
man doctrines, which were setting all society by 
the ears ; and when Duke Ercole sold himself to 
do evil at the papal bidding, his covey of learned 
professors grew frightened and took to flight. 
Students ceased to crowd the halls when the at- 
traction of teachers with great names was with- 
drawn : the Ferrarese university had received its 
death-blow, and not even the subsequent glory of 
Ariosto's residence could revive it. 

Strange, how generally a declension in all things 
of worldly value has followed a suppression of 
religious liberty through every land ! As surely 
as night follows the setting of the sun, so surely 
do the people degenerate who have been deprived 
of freedom of conscience. What incalculable hap- 


piness and wealth has Italy lost by her rejection 
of a pure gospel when it stood in her midst, and 
attracted the noblest and best of her sons about its 
gloriou? shining! What incalculable wealth and 
happiness has Britain gained by her acceptance of 
the same gospel, and her kindling from its light 
the household fires of generations ! 

But those " who love darkness rather than light" 
were in power over poor Italy. This very year 
1556, in particular, when Philip and Paul were 
quarrelling, and Michael Angelo was repairing the 
fortifications of Rome with a view to siege by those 
faithful children of the Church, Alva's troops, the 
Inquisition was more busily at work than ever 
since its resuscitation under the Third Paul. 
The system of espionage was working well. A 
cloud of terror hung over the wretched sectaries 
who dared seek for freedom of conscience on this 
side the Alps. " A look, a word, the possession 
of a book deemed heretical, or of a New Testament 
in the vulgar tongue, were offences sufficient to ex- 
pose persons, without distinction of age, sex, rank, 
or office, first to imprisonments, afterward by 
means of torture to forced confessions, to no less 
forced recantations, or, as the case might turn out, 
to death itself." Thus writes an historian of 


credit : thus went on the crusade against God's 

Perhaps there was less of this ecclesiastic tyranny 
in Duke Ereole's dominions than elsewhere in 
Italy, except in that far sunny south of the Calab- 
rias, where, under a convention more than a cen- 
tury and a half old, a goodly colony of Waldenses 
worshipped the God of their fathers without pres- 
ent molestation. Thither Francesco's heart often 
turned in wishful longings for such external peace. 
Certain of his mother's kinsfolk had settled there 
with the last migration of Vaudois, about the 
year 1500; and so he felt to have some tie with 
the region, besides the common bond of the com- 
mon faith. He would take part of his patrimony 
in broad pieces from the Bank of Venice, and pur- 
chase a strip of land and a house, and settle him- 
self and Bianca in rural life. 

His solitary castle in the air ! and a modest one 
enough; but Di Montalto set his face wholly 
against such felicitous obscurity. Pie was unwill- 
ing that the talents he descried in his future son- 
in-law should thus be buried lost alike to name 
and fame. He was pleased with the praises which the 
Professor Portus, and the acute critic Castelvetro of 
Modena (to whom Portus had introduced Fran- 


cesco), uttered concerning the young man's abilities. 
The patronage of the latter, himself also one of the 
" infected/ 7 procured several pupils for the new 

teacher of medicine and of Greek. The distin- 


guished Academia del Grillenzone, so called be- 
cause that company of learned men met originally 
in the house of a physician with this name, was 
inclined to take up the young Venetian and push 
his interests. All might be well, muttered the old 
father-in-law, if only he will keep under those 
unfortunate religious opinions. 

For some time the suspicion that he was ad- 
dicted to Lutheranism rather served than injr/ed 
him, notwithstanding. The sympathy among the 
learned of Italy for the Reformation movemeut 
was largely diffused. War with the illiteracy of 
the Romish priests was the normal state of litera- 
ture and its professors. A decree of the Inquisition 
about this period states that three thousand school- 
masters had embraced Reformed tenets ; and that 
vigilant tribunal immediately addressed its ener- 
gies to lessen the number. Perhaps our poor 
Francesco was included in the list, for he was in- 
capable of dissimulation. The most he could do 
was to refrain from demonstration. 

Once, Modena had been most remarkable for 


her enthusiastic reception of the Lutheran doc- 
trines. " Persons of all classes," writes a contem- 
porary Romish author, " whenever they meet 
in the streets, in shops, or in churches, disputed 
about faith and the law of Christ, and all promis- 
cuously tortured the sacred Scriptures, quoting 
Paul, Matthew, John, the Apocalypse, and all the 
doctors. 7 ' Cardinal Morone, bishop of the see, 
and himself tainted, says it was the common re- 
port that " the whole city was turned Lutheran." 
But the all-powerful Inquisition had worked with 
conclusive effect : heresy only smouldered in the 
popular depths now. 

Francesco had entrance to the academic conver- 
saziones, which were the chief form of social inter- 
course among the higher educated classes of the 
day in university towns. To a modern of our 
time these gatherings would have been insufferably 
stiff; for the themes of commonest talk were read- 
ings of obscure passages in the classics, the last 
new watery sonnet of some bepraised literary fa- 
vourite, the abstruse doctrine of predestination or 
free will, the pursuance of an argument through 
weary stages of syllogisms. From specimens that 
have descended to us we may congratulate our- 

* Tnssoni. 


selves that our colloquial entertainments have 
taken a livelier turn. But there was one subject 
which never failed to kindle all hearts one 
dangerous subject, perhaps fascinating from its 
very danger, to be spoken of with bated breath 
and a glance round for spies. The tenets taught 
among them by Ochino, and later by Ricci and 
the friar Pergala, were more interesting by far 
than any scholastic disputation; and many of the 
wise men of Modena had taken them into their 
hearts and owned them as a rule of life. 

" But I fear me a storm is brewing for us," re- 
marked Castelvetro to his young acquaintance, 
Altieri, as they stood at a case of old Roman 
coins : " the inquisitors look very brisk these few 
days past, as if fresh orders had arrived from head- 
quarters. 'II Padre Canonico' of the Duomo 
glances at me most knowingly, as who should say, 
4 You' re a heretic, good Ludovico, and I'll have 
my hands on you by and by !' ' ; 

Francesco smiled. "I suppose there will be 
naught for it but the old advice: 'When they 
persecute you in this city, flee ye into another/ " 
he observed. 

" That saved me more than once or twice," said 
a third person, joining the group. 


"Ay, that it did, my Filippo !" rejoined Castel- 
vetro, familiarly. "For instance, the night that 
Erri and his soldiers found the bird flown !" 

"How was that?" asked Francesco. 

"Well, you must know that we academicians 
were long known to be a body of ill savour to his 
Holiness; and one Filippo Valentino, happening to 
be of noble birth, was reckoned the worst criminal; 
also because his friends were partial enough to talk 
of his talent. The Farnese Pope Paul did me the 
honour of issuing a special brief to Duke Ercole, 
stating that the author of all heresy in Modena 
was that son of wickedness, Filippo Valentino, 
and requesting that I should therefore be delivered 
up to his merciful hands. And so, one night, I 
received warning from a friend of the friendly 
purpose, and had left my house but a short time 
when Pellegrino Erri and his ' sbirri' came up, and, 
in default of my person, arrested all my papers. 
I went off to Trent, and after some time got my- 
self elected podesta, which was a safeguard from 
any legal attempts ; but the Inquisition is not par- 
ticular, and we don't forget the Borgias ; so I keep 
rather a sharp lookout in general, since I've come 
back to the old nest." 

Here a call rose from the company that the 


young nobleman should favour them with some 
proof of the astonishing memory which was his 
distinguishing talent. Bowing gracefully, he signi- 
fied assent: whereupon a learned professor stood 
up, and read from Erasmus's celebrated " Praise 
of Folly" several pages. 

This treatise, renowned for its biting sarcasm 
and its daring liberalism, was so popular as to pass 
through twenty-seven editions during the lifetime 
of its author, and to be translated into every 
European tongue. Gadaldino, the great printer of 
Modena, held now the original Latin version in 
his hands, wherewith to experiment on Valentino's 
memory. It sets forth the eulogy of Moria, or 
Folly, daughter of Plutus, born in the Fortunate 
Isles, reared in darkness, and become the queen of 
a powerful empire among men ; the satire spares 
not any, from the triple crown to the friar's frock. 

Valentino stood perfectly motionless, his ear 
slightly bent toward the reader, his eyes fixed on 
the ground, until the pages were ended; when 
suddenly raising his head, he began to speak at the 
opening paragraph, giving to each sentence its due 
intonation, animating it as if it were his own 
mental utterance, until he reached the end. This 
is part of what he pronounced : 


"The mind of man is so constituted that im- 
posture has more hold on it than truth. If there 
be one saint more apocryphal than another, a Saint 
George, or Christopher, or Barbara, you will see 
him more worshipped than Peter or Paul nay, 
more even than Christ himself. . . . Can there be 
any greater enemies to the Church than those un- 
holy pontiffs who, by their silence, allow Jesus 
Christ to "be forgotten; who bind him by their 
mercenary regulations, falsify his doctrine by 
forced interpretations, and crucify him a second 
time by their scandalous lives ?" 

The hum of applause broke into frequent 
"vivas," as Valentino uttered the last words of 
his task with great force. " Ecco ! that's the 
truth ! they suffer the most blessed Christ to be 
forgotten ! they crucify him with their scandalous 
lives ! E pur troppo vero it is but too true !" 

Amid the gush of conversation which followed, 
all tongues being loosened, when Castelvetro was 
whispering to Francesco, " That is nothing of a 
test for Valentino's memory ; he hath the principal 
Latin poets by heart, and after a long sermon he 
can repeat it word for word" the master of the 
house was called aside by one of the servants, who 
seemed dismayed enough. 


Castelvetro returned after a few moments, bear- 
ing in his hand a legal-looking document. His 
own face had changed much in those few moments, 
and bore almost a haggard expression. And well 
it might ; for the whole prospects of his life had 
been overcast, and the fear of death had fallen 
upon him, as by a single stroke. 

" Che vuol dire? what's the matter?" and his 
guests crowded about him curiously, yet some of 
them with a foreboding. 

" Only my citation to appear before the Congre- 
gation of the Inquisition at Rome," replied Cas- 
telvetro, in a husky voice, and gazing at the fatal 
paper. "I don't know what charges they can 
have against me I am sure I have been cautious 

"I never saw one of those birds of ill-omen 
solitary," remarked Valentino ; " there's a flock of 
them abroad, be sure. And shall we meanly 
cower before them, friends ? Shall we not remem- 
ber our own dear Lord's saying, ' Blessed are ye 
when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and 
shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for 
my sake? Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for 
great is your reward in heaven/ " 

"Ay," added his brother Bonifacio, who was 


provost of the cathedral, "we ought to make a 
hand-in-hand vow that we will die ere we desert 
the cause." * 

Alas ! less than two years' imprisonment, subse- 
quently, in the vaults of the Inquisition, taught 
this fiery disciple his own weakness ; for Bonifacio 
made a solemn and public recantation, in the 
Minerva Church at Rome, and afterward in his 
own at Modena, of all the doctrines which he now 
thought he would die for ! 

The company were not long in dispersing that 
night from Castelvetro's conversazione ; the instinct 
of fleeing a falling house uppermost with some. 
The printer and the provost were apprehended 
and sent under guards to Rome ; Castelvetro and 
Filippo Valentino fled. 

This was the death-blow to the Reformation in 



'HE university was pretty well frightened by 
that swoop of the hawk-like Inquisition. 
Learning is a delicate plant, which cannot 
thrive in a disturbed air, but sickens and dies amid 
storms, even if not uprooted by force of the blast. 
The tide of students began to recede from Modena 
likewise, as the city became more orthodox. 

Francesco's moderate success for a few months 
dwindled into a final failure. The prospects of the 
poor betrothed pair seemed duller than ever, and 
Di Montalto was yet angrier with himself and 
those about him for the dismal fate which seemed 
to link his fortunes so determinedly with the sink- 
ing Reformation. Francesco guessed that the 
women of the family must suffer a good deal from 
his testy temper, and he sometimes found Bianca 
with traces of tears on her face ; but nothing was 
ever told him of the husband and father's private 
demeanour, and he respected their silence. 

Now he was trying a teacher's life in Ferrara, 

18 273 


that in Modena Laving been abruptly closed by 
the sudden persecution. It was a consolation to be 
near Bianca, in any case, and to see her every day, 
though marriage for them seemed as distant as 
ever. Portus helped him to some pupils, and he 
struggled on. 

The cloud of war now actually lowered over the 
territories of Ferrara. Duke Ercole yielded at 
last to entreaties and menaces from his spiritual 
father the pope, and his very unspiritual nephew 
Henry II. of France ; he joined their league 
against Philip of Spain in mid-November, 1556, 
and was named captain-general. 

The land rang throughout with preparations for 
the strife, with the swinging of smith's hammers 
upon cuirass and halberd, with the tramp of 
mailed men and the roll of war-wagons. Six 
thousand infantry were Ercole's contingent to the 
invading army of France, besides horse and men- 
at-arms. His son-in-law, the Duke of Guise, was 
to be his fellow-general. 

Francesco offered himself as one of the Fer- 
rarese surgeons to accompany the expedition. He 
had deliberated much before taking this step, 
which was so strongly urged by his future father- 
in-law ; he knew not but it might place him in a 


false position, making his duty to his earthly 
prince clash with his duty to his heavenly King. 

" You will make more in a single campaign than 
in seven years 7 slaving at the desk/ 7 quoth Di 
Montalto. The young physician was not so sure 
of that, for he disdained to share in plunder ; still 
there was nothing unlawful in, and there was a 
certain amount of gain connected with, the post of 
soldier-surgeon. And Di Montalto urged it on 
him by every plea; he might earn a position to 
enable him to marry Bianca ; and so he went. 

Present at the great review, at Reggio, of the 
allied French and Ferrarese forces ; present at the 
ineffectual sieges of Coreggio and Guastalla; 
present during the idle summer's watching of the 
Milanese frontier, where Spaniards swarmed (for 
Ercole would not leave his own states unprotected, 
and suffered Guise to go on to the glory of laying 
waste the Abruzzo and threatening Rome without 
him), Francesco was weary of camp-life ere he 
had been a month in it. The scene was most un- 
congenial, though even among the rough soldiers he 
found some of the " infected," like himself, and 
with them enjoyed stolen worship. In fact, where 
were not the Reformed to be found in Italy at that 
time, despite all the savagery of persecution? 


From the pillared halls of the Vatican, where 
Michel Angelo, a concealed heretic, held audience 
with his Holiness concerning St. Peter's, and knew 
that certain cardinals were " lame of the same 
foot/' to the tent of the trooper, the cell of the 
Carmelite, the cot of the peasant Christ's gospel 
of glad tidings had penetrated alike to hearts 
beneath the purple robe, the glittering cuirass, the 
woollen frock and the hempen doublet. Italy was 
abundantly leavened with the truth ; but the In- 
quisition suppressed its healthy fermentation, caus- 
ing a bitterness which works fatally even still. 

Francesco was attached to the household troops, 
and returned to Ferrara with joy when the duke 
paid his palace a business visit. And here oc- 
curred a circumstance of moment for all parties. 

The commonest things in the Italian political 
world of that age were conspiracies. Everybody 
of any note had a hand in plots of one kind or 
other for the promotion or downfall of governments 
or dynasties ; and some highly respectable person- 
ages did not scruple to put their fingers into very 
dirty plots occasionally, when any big purpose was 
to be served. Noblemen and ecclesiastics alike, 
nay, even the delicate hands of high-born women, 
were found meddling with such ugly work. 


Now Duke Ercole being captain-general of the 
league against King Philip, and his states lying 
very conveniently for junction to the Spanish fief 
of the Milanese, it occurred to the astute Cardinal 
Madrucci and to the Marquis di Pescara, Philip's 
agents in Italy, that if by any means Ercole and 
his family could be got rid of, their master's 
cause would be well served. But, of course, persons 
in such lofty positions must not be seen at all in 
the business; there were hangers-on enough, of 
doubtful reputation, to whom a hint was sufficient ; 
and before long a very neat little conspiracy was 
hatching in Ferrara itself, within stone's throw 
of the tremendous red, moated castle, in whose 
strength Kene"e securely reposed. 

And so it came to pass that one day when the 
duke walked in the gardens of his grand Belvidere 
Palace (contemporary historians grow plethoric 
of fine adjectives in the vain attempt to de- 
lineate the splendours of this regal residence 
of the house of Este) as he walked here with the 
lovely Leonora, his youngest daughter, beside him 
that Leonora who afterward became " the wor- 
ship and the woe of Tasso" one of his gentlemen 
came to say that a certain young man, but now 
arrived from the city, craved audience. 


"Admit him here/' replied the duke; "this 
shall be our presence-chamber for the nonce ;" and 
he seated himself on a carved bench which com- 
manded a view of the superb palace at some dis- 
tance, which was built on a triangular island 
formed by arms of the river Po : marble battle- 
ments girded the shore, and shut in the little 
wilderness of woods, meadows, fountains and 
streamlets, gardens of rich flowers and fruits, all 
contrived by the ingenuity of Alfonso I., and 
serving subsequently to inspire Tasso's description 
of the gardens of Armida. 

Francesco hardly saw these glories and beauties 
as he stepped forward, almost too hastily for the 
marshalling of the official; and in reply to the 
duke's address, demanded to speak with him pri- 
vately. He had been personally known to his 
Highness before now. 

Ercole walked aside a few paces into shelter of a 
blossoming bosquet of shrubs. Whatever he heard 
in that shadow had strangely changed his mien 
when he returned to where Leonora d'Este still sat 
looking toward the smiling palace. 

" I must leave thee, anima mia ; urgent business 
calls me to the city immediately. Order one of the 
barges to be got ready without delay/' he said to a 


gentleman-in-waiting ; and a scowl gathered omin- 
ously on his already dark brows as he turned away, 
and Leonora fancied she could detect the muttered 
" Traitors !" gnashed between his teeth. 

After the noble figure of their duke stared the 
crowd in the piazza, as he galloped by with a de- 
tachment of his guards, and stopped presently at a 
convent gate ; the minute after, he stood beside a 
bed in the infirmary of the brotherhood. An old 
man, grievously wounded, had been found without 
in a neighbouring street wounded unto the death, 
the most skilful monk thought ; and so did Altieri, 
the surgeon, to whom alone he imparted the secret 
that enemies had set on him because he had gained 
knowledge of a certain conspiracy against the duke 
and his dynasty, which they feared he would di- 
vulge; and sought to ensure his silence by the 
dagger's point. 

Ercole heard it all all he could tell from the 
failing breath of the old trooper, " Because I was 
one of the Reformed, and thou a persecutor, they 
thought I would approve their assassin's plan. 
Take away that bauble, good brother," to a monk 
who held a crucifix before him. " The cross of 
Christ is in- my heart I want no other Saviour 
I have the most blessed Christ " 


" Holy mother ! the man is a heretic !" ejacu- 
lated the monk with the crucifix, rather over his 
breath. " If we knew that, it is long till such car- 
rion should defile our convent " 

The duke raised his eyes, and regarded the syco- 
phant so sternly that he shrank back a pace. 
" Better to try to convert him than refuse comforts 
to the dying," remarked Ercole ; " he has been a 
loyal subject, and shed his life for us and ours as 
truly as 'twere on the battle-field. Good friend," 
and he turned to the prostrate old man, "would 
we could requite thee this service, but thy spirit 
is ebbing fast : nevertheless we will have a thou- 
sand masses sung for thy soul, to bring thee quickly 
into paradise through the aid of our Lady " 

By a prodigious exertion of his last strength, 
the dying man raised himself partially, and fixed 
his hollow, glittering eyes on the duke : " Your 
Excellence is most kind, but there are no need of 
masses for me ; I shall go straight to heaven, for 
has not my Saviour died ? I believe that for the 
most blessed Christ's sake I am even now par- 
doned all my sins" the aged voice had broken, 
and he presently sank back exhausted. 

It was one glimpse of the pure, the ennobling 
faith of the gospel in nature's dire extremity, 


brought before the bigoted Ercole. But he viewed 
it through the mist of a thousand prejudices and 
false beliefs. 

" One reward," gasped the poor old man ; " tell 
them" he glanced at the friars about "not to 
molest me with prayers for I have my own Con- 
fessormy Saviour;" and the worn face bright- 
ened into a smile. 

" Let the heretic die in his heresy, good father," 
ordered the duke ; " but we will have the thou- 
sand masses for him, notwithstanding." And he 
strode away. 



fN"D thus the plot, so comfortably hatching in 
the very heart of Ferrara, was stifled before 
maturity; and Ferrante di Gonzaga and the 
cardinal and the marquis, those highly noble per- 
sonages who moved the puppets by wires from Mi- 
lan, and whose honour was in nowise soiled by the 
concoction of assassination, heard of the failure as 
a piece of grievous ill-fortune, but hoped for better 
luck next time; and left their subordinates to per- 
ish from Duke Ercole's anger without a qualm, 
except for the usefulness of the agency thus 

Enter we the ducal cabinet in that moated castle 
before described, where the lord of Ferrara is en- 
gaged in public business with his secretary. Just 
now the work in hand is a despatch to Rome, to 
answer the pope's urgent demands that Ercole 
and his troops shall march southward to co-operate 
with the Duke of Guise against Naples. But Er- 
cole knows well the unremitting vigilance of his 



Spanish neighbours in the Milanese, and will not 
be persuaded to leave his capital undefended, even 
to engage in the holier office of keeping Alva's 
hands off Rome. Therefore the Holy Father is in- 
formed in the most respectful manner, by his duti- 
ful son Ercole, that a murderous conspiracy has 
been but just disconcerted, which had for its ob- 
ject the destruction of the whole ducal family; 
that for this and other reasons he must utterly de- 
cline to stir either himself or his soldiers from 
their vantage-ground in Lombardy. 

" His Holiness seems quite to forget every inter- 
est save his own," was the duke's remark, some- 
what petulantly spoken ; " not content with drag- 
ging me into this war sorely against my will, he 
now indicates to me the direct road to ruin, and 
would have me walk in it to please him. Think 
you these rotten fortifications of Ferrara would 
hold out forty-eight hours against the Milanese 
army ? And once in the grasp of the Spaniards, 
it is too fair a fief to be loosened by all the power 
of the keys." 

" And your Highness has more than your share 
of the burden of the war already," observed the 
obsequious secretary. 

u Ah, truly ; have I not engaged to supply the 


army of Guise with munitions of war, and do not 
I guard for them the passage of retreat to their 
own country ? For retreat they will," added the 
duke. " The strife is too unequal : would that I 
were well out of it ! Our nephew Henry of France 
is able to hold his own, but I have everything to 
fear from Philip's vengeance." 

He walked about the apartment perturbedly, a 
frown contracting his handsome, imperious face. 
It was rather hard that he, constitutionally a lover 
of peace, should be plunged against his will into 
an expensive and harassing war, whence he could 
gain no advantage, but incurred the extremest 

" Friendship or enmity both wellnigh equally 
fatal," muttered he, his chin on his chest, as he 
looked downward into the deep courtyard, where 
stood the equestrian statue of Niccolo III. of the 
Este" line ; " the Holy See hath damage even in its 
amity for its poor allies. Domestic broils without 
end " and the regretful thought of an instant was 
given to the gentle wife who had suffered so much 
from his bigotry, though he fain would cloak that 
persecution under pretext of obedience to his 
spiritual guides " domestic broils without end," 
thought Ercole, " and the Inquisition for my sub- 


jects ; and now perchance the loss of the dukedom 
for myself: rebellion could scarce be worse pun- 
ished than fealty is rewarded." 

And the massive statue of his old ancestor, so 
tranquilly standing below in such a steadfast calm, 
representative of a man once just as full of cares, 
and of honours, and of ambitions, and of restless- 
ness, seemed a tacit rebuke to the chafed spirit 
seemed virtually to say to the unquiet ruler of 
Ferrara, " Wait, thou inheritor of my glories and 
of my toils but wait, and thou shalt be calm 
as I!" 

Perhaps Ercole felt the unspoken utterance : he 
turned abruptly from the window and rang a little 
silver bell which was on the table. A page from the 
ante-chamber entered ; and immediately afterward, 
on his summons, our old acquaintance, Francesco 

"Well, my young leech," was the duke's reply 
to his obeisance, " and what wouldst have for the 
service thou hast rendered us ?" 

" Your most excellent Highness sent for me," 
began Altieri, somewhat puzzled at thus being 
peremptorily required to name his price. 

"Yes, yes -just to ask you this," returned Er- 
cole. " Most essential service have you rendered 


us; we wish to reward it in a way chosen by 

" Your Highness, I was but a messenger." 

" A truce to extenuations," interrupted the duke, 
impatiently; "we have no time to waste. We are 
willing to reward, be you but willing to receive. 
Say then, what would you have ?" 

"Your Highness* commands," promptly an- 
swered the young physician, as he stood respect- 
fully before his prince "your Highness' com- 
mands to leave your army and betake myself as a 
settler to the Calabrias." 

Ercole fixed on him his sharp eyes : " To leave 
my service? Methinks thou shouldst be more 
than ever anxious to be retained in it, now that 
thou hast laid us under an obligation," he observed. 
"And wherefore to settle in the Calabrias, messer?" 

"Because, your Excellence " And Francesco, 
in few words, told of his betrothal for the past 
year and a half, wellnigh, and his desire to 
find a home for his bride. The duke listened 

"But yet I perceive no reason why that home 
need be in the Calabrias," said Ercole, " while I 
can see many reasons for retaining so loyal a sub- 
ject as thou in Ferrara." 


"Your Highness knows not," replied Francesco, 
"that I am of the Lutheran faith, and seek a place 
where I can worship my God as my conscience 

"A Lutheran!" The moment's pause which 
followed seemed to the young physician minutes 
long. His sovereign was steadily gazing at the 
hardy individual who dared present himself in the 
Ferrarese audience-chamber and avow himself a 

"Then you have well said," resumed Ercole, 
" that my dominions are no place for heretics ! I 
give thee the required guerdon : leave my service 
and get thee to the Calabrias, and see whether 
our brother of Spain and Naples hath not even a 
warmer welcome for the 'novatori' than we have 

He drew over a set of papers and began to turn 
them uneasily with his hands, like one preoccupied 
with some thought. Gratitude was struggling with 
bigotry : 

" And see, Messer Altieri now that we recall it, 
thy name seems flavoured with heresy in its very 
sound was there not some noted Lutheran so 
called ?" He appealed to his secretary. 

"Si, monsignor," answered that supple person- 


age, one of whose duties was to keep a prodigious 
memory "agent for sundry German princes at 
Venice, and secretary to the English embassy." 

"Wherein a heretic would find small favour 
now/ 7 observed his master. "His Eminence the 
cardinal of England* hath wrought wonders there, 
and brought back the whole nation into apostolic 
allegiance. But this Altieri in Venice, was he kin 
of thine?" 

" My father's brother, your Excellence/ 7 said 
Francesco, feeling as if he was cutting off his last 
chance of favour. An attendant entered with a 
packet of despatches from France, just arrived by 
special courier. 

"Then/ 7 said Ercole, negligently breaking the 
seal, "thou hast it by hereditary descent, which is 
not so blamable. Ha! what have we here? 77 

His eyes seemed to devour the lines of writing, 
but the healthy florid complexion of his face 
actually paled to a livid hue ere he had ended. 

"Now, indeed, has the worst come! 77 said he, 
folding the paper half mechanically, as he handed 
it to his secretary. " A great battle of St. Quentin 
in Picardy the French troops utterly routed a 
second Pavia the Duke of Guise must be recalled 

* Cardinal Pole. 


directly and I shall have to bear the brunt of 
both Alva and Gonzaga. Holy Mother, what a 
fearful calamity !" 

He would have totally forgotten Francesco's 
presence had not the secretary pointed to where he 
still stood : " This gentleman, your Highness, has 
not received your Highness 7 final orders." 

" Ay what was I speaking of?" Ercole passed 
his broad white hand over his bronzed brow. " I 
remember yes, I was about to tell thee that Di 
Montalto is but a refugee, and cannot have much 
dower for his daughter ; and as thou has rendered 
us good and loyal service, natheless thine heresy, 
we will of our bounty bestow upon the maiden 
five hundred gold florins as a portion on her wed- 
ding day." 

And so Francesco was bowed out by the supple 
secretary, feeling in his heart more profuse of 
thanks than his lips had time to utter. And which 
was the happiest the almost penniless young phy- 
sician, despised as one of the " infected" by certain 
courtiers in the ante-chamber attired in brave rai- 
ment, or the powerful prince of Ferrara, seated in 
his cabinet to wrestle with the black care and fear 
that had issued from those despatches, and laid 
hold of his Highness like twin vultures? 



Cause enough had Ercole for dread. The de- 
spatch informed him that in the battle of St. 
Quentin no fewer than six hundred French gentle- 
men, the flower of the noblesse, had been taken 
prisoners, so utterly broken was the French 
chivalry. The great Marshal de Montmorency 
had also fallen into the hands of the Spaniards : 
the Duke of Guise must be recalled, with his 
troops, to protect Paris. What remained to oppose 
the overwhelming Spanish force in Italy? A 
handful of papal troops, chiefly mercenaries, and 
the Ferrarese six thousand, against whom were 
pitted the armies of Alva and Gonzaga, the Dukes 
of Parma and of Florence. Well might Ercole 
call the tidings " a fearful calamity." 

Italian princes of that age held their territories 
by such slight tenure that the sceptre was always 
trembling in their grasp. Any shock of war 
might precipitate their feudal crowns to the dust ; 
and Ercole might be pardoned for the first thought 
that his turn of decadence had come. 

" Guise must leave me troops," he soliloquized ; 
"I shall be ruined without French help. Hire 
Germans or Swiss, after the example of the Holy 
Father? Nay, but my provinces would be snapped 
up by Gonzaga ere an arquebuss would have time 


to cross the mountains. Oh that Guise had taken 
Milan, when it lay comparatively at his mercy ! 
But the Caraffas insisted on the march into Naples : 
this comes of gownmen meddling in campaigns." 

It may be believed that Ercole's gold -fringed 
pillows were pressed that night by a weary yet 
restless head. Hour after hour, thinking, think- 
ing ; travelling back over his policy, forward over 
its probable disastrous results : his wakeful eye 
wandering over the dark folds of the Flanders 
arras lining his apartments, whence loomed 
shadowy-woven figures, dismal as his fears. The 
rich crimson satin hangings and embroidered linen 
and silken coverlet of his couch were to him small 
elements of comfort that night. Few Ferrarese 
peasants, lying on their sack beds stuffed irregu- 
larly with husks of maize, and looking up to their 
duke habitually as to some half-celestial being, 
but enjoyed sounder repose than his, for they 
knew not the ducal sensation of " thorns in the 

Some of his thoughts dwelt on the strange 
anomaly then enacting in the Papal States. Those 
German and Swiss mercenaries who were protect- 
ing the Holy Father against his most dutiful chil- 
dren of Naples were men who, for the most part, 


despised his authority utterly in their own persons. 
Paul IV. was warred against by Alva, who would 
have lain in the dust to be walked over by the 
papal palfrey, so deep was his reverence for the see 
of Rome. He was defended by the troops of 
Albert of Brandenburg, the head of the Protest- 
ants of the Empire soldiers who "jeered at the 
images of the saints, laughed at the mass, broke 
the fasts of the Church/'* and scrupled not to in- 
sult sacerdotal dignity whenever it suited them to 
do so. Ercole of Ferrara knew in his heart that 
such an anomaly could not long continue. He 
foresaw a speedy peace between Philip and Paul, 
even though his correspondents in Rome had 
written to him how the pope would inveigh against 
the Spaniards as " schismatics, accursed dregs of 
the earth." Now to get himself advantageously 
inserted in such a peace was the main object of 
Ercole's cogitations. 

He was passing through the ante-chamber into 
his cabinet next morning, still brooding on the 
same, when he spied among the bareheaded 
gathering of courtiers and suitors, the physician 
Di Montalto, who was first honoured with an audi- 
ence, being, in fact invited into the presence-cham- 
* Kanke's " History of the Popes." 


ber by the duke himself an action which had a 
very significant value in the courtiers' eyes, and 
caused them to respect "il medico" rather more 
than previously. 

" Well, my friend," said Ercole, familiarly for 
he was commonly renowned by reason of his affable 
manners, and now was in better humour than for 
twenty-four hours past, as imagining he saw a way 
out of his political difficulties " well, amico mio, 
how goes it? I hope you have settled all that 
affair of the betrothal with your son-in-law that is 
to be? I must see the young lady myself; per- 
chance I may give her away at the bridal ? Eh, 
Messer Physician, what do you say ?" 

Di Montalto's countenance had positively fallen 
at the idea. What if he were compelled to confess 
the humiliating truth that the rite must be Lu- 
theran, for those whom it most nearly concerned 
were Lutheran? He actually blushed under the 
ducal gaze. 

"Ha! I had forgotten," said Ercole, perhaps 
divining the cause of his physician's discomfited 
look. " I had forgotten that the young fellow 
declared himself one of the accursed ' novatori' 
one of those heretics who have set the world in a 
blaze ! But surely it cannot be the case that thy 


daughter goes with him in his opinions thou 
seemest so orthodox thyself, Di Montalto ?" added 
the duke, rather maliciously, for he had more 
than a suspicion of how matters were in the 
physician's household. 

" I try to do my duty to God and man, your 
Highness," replied the other, trying, with a bow, to 
conceal the sensations which made his very griz- 
zled moustache quiver. " But, unfortunately, my 
daughter has imbibed certain of the new doc- 

61 Ay, ay, a maiden is but too apt to pick up 
the conscience of her betrothed," said the duke. 
" Thou canst scarce do better than ship them off for 
the Calabrias, and so relieve thy household of the 
taint which may fetter our favour. The dower 
shall be paid by our treasurer." And Ercole 
rapidly wrote a memorandum. "Leave us now;" 
and Di Montalto, with much obeisance, glided 
from the presence, which was unconscious of his 
profound bows, being seated with its back to the 
door and engrossed with the perusal of a state 

The deferential curve in Di Montalto's shoulders 
lessened perceptibly in the ante-chamber, and dis- 
appeared altogether in the street ; and by the time 



he reached " the most ill-smelling house in all 
Ferrara," his mien was unbending as ever had 
stricken with dread the sensitive nature of poor 
little Bianca. 



0[ S the Duke of Ferrara had foreseen, the pope 
II was obliged to conclude peace with Philip 
CT ^ of Spain in little more than a month from the 
battle of St. Quentin. Very tenderly had the 
superstitious Alva made war upon his Holy 
Father, and very submissively did he impose peace. 
After advancing twice to the gates of Rome, and 
having the Vatican at his mercy, he gave back to 
Paul IV. every advantage he had gained, restored 
every castle and city which his Holiness claimed, 
and comported himself in all things as if he had 
been the conquered, instead of the conqueror. 

Shortly afterward might such a scene as the fol- 
lowing be witnessed in Rome. Paul the Fourth, 
" the servant of servants," seated upon a throne, 
high and lifted up; his tall, commanding figuie 
dressed in purple robes of empire, his deep-sunken 
eyes glowing with the fire of youth in a frame 
which numbered more than . eighty years in age : 
something of scorn, of suppressed hate and rage, 



conflicting with politic affability and papal dignity 
in his still handsome countenance. And before 
him kneels the conqueror Alva, with profoundest 
reverence asking pardon for his conquest, with 
deepest abasement kissing the foot of his van- 
quished enemy, his cruel soul actually cringing 
before the octogenarian pontiff; for he declared, 
subsequently, that never had he feared the face of 
man as he did Paul's. 

But what about Ercole of Ferrara in this peace- 
making ? Alas ! he has been quite left out : he 
might make terms for himself as best he could. 
Paul was, perhaps, disposed to punish him for 
previous lukewarmness ; or perhaps thought Er- 
cole, apprehensively he would have no objection 
to the Ferrarese territories forming a principality 
for his nephews, the Caraffas. It would be quite 
after the manner of the popes, this last notion. 

Amid such wars and rumours of wars, in the 
autumn of 1557, were celebrated the humble nup- 
tials of our betrothed pair. And, as at the former 
ceremony, little festivity was held : it was chiefly a 
festival of hearts. A custom of the age was, that 
the bridegroom spent the bride's dower in hand- 
some clothes and ornaments for her, which were all 
exhibited at the wedding feast, we presume as a 


stimulus to other maidens to follow her example ; 
but Bianca had no finery to exhibit. The touch- 
ing simplicity of the Reformed service again in 
an upper chamber was indeed a contrast to the 
marriage rite as elsewhere performed in Ferrara : 
with a deeper, holier import were these two lives 
joined, to walk together not only through time, 
"till death them did part," but to love for 
eternity also. 

This privileged thought has the Christian at his 
espousals, and no other man. The marriage bond 
is for all but Christians a tie snapped at death, or 
only productive of additional misery beyond ; 
while for the children of God it endures, as far as 
spiritualized affection is concerned, into the count- 
less ages of a glorious eternity. Francesco and 
his wife knew it felt it: how inexpressibly en- 
dearing the belief! 

But after a few brief weeks must come the 
needful parting for a time, while Francesco sets out 
for the Calabrias, to establish there the home he 
had promised Bianca. A long, uncertain journey, 
which could be lightened by few of those great 
consolers of absence letters; but a journey 
through a country devastated by the late wars, and 
where even yet hostile troops were moving. 


At last came tidings that Cosmo, Duke of Flor- 
ence, had made peace with his neighbour Ercole. 
The poor new, little wife Bianca never had been 
so sorry to hear of any war being ended, for it 
seemed to clear the path for Francesco's departure 
on his perilous quest. But still war was going 
forward with Parma : she would fain keep him 
until that danger was removed likewise. Had not 
the gallant young Prince Alphonso gone forth at 
the head of all the Ferrarese chivalry against 
Ottavio Farnese? he must have success with such 
a brave company; arid if Francesco would but 
wait until then ! So reasoned Bianca. 

It came true in the first month of the year 
1558, when a battle was fought discomfiting Parma, 
and peace ensued among all parties, and harassed 
Duke Ercole could breathe easily. 

Francesco and his father-in-law had been by no 
means idle of late. For the remains of the army 
of Guise had gathered to Ferrara, destitute of 
everything, hoping relief from the known lib- 
erality and kindliness of the Duchess Rene"e, 
daughter of their olden king. Sick, wounded, 
naked were not a few of these poor French sol- 
diers the raw material of victories, discarded like 
a broken tool when no longer wanted by the great 


weavers of wars ; and starving were they all, even 
to the number of thousands. Every surgeon in 
Ferrara was employed by the duchess to look after 
their needs and supply them with suitable medical 
appliances at her sole expense. 

One forenoon, having an audience with her on 
such matters, the young surgeon Altieri was pres- 
ent when the steward of her household brought in 
his accounts, her embroidering ladies working at a 
little distance, meanwhile, as usual. 

"Your Highness will observe," quoth the gray- 
haired servitor, bowing low, "that the expenses of 
this week past have been yet heavier than of the 
foregoing; and if I might presume to speak to 
your Highness " 

"I know what thou wouldst say, good Checco," 
interrupted his mistress, pleasantly and with her 
sweet smile. " Thou wouldst say that the expense 
of all these poor soldiers falls heavily on our 
treasury: thinkest thou I have not read as much 
in thy glance for the last half-dozen audiences we 
have given thee? Thou dost grudge the golden 
ducats, good Checco, and reasonably enough, were 
the case other than it is. But, my faithful Checco, 
consider that these are poor Frenchmen and my 
countrymen, who had been my subjects now had I 


a beard on my chin nay, would have been niy 
subjects but for the unjust Salic law.* And so it 
comes to pass that we think no sacrifice too great 
for these poor soldiers and no succour too costly. 
I should rather thou wouldst curtail our own 
personal expenses, good Checco, than stint these 
our kinsfolk of help." 

The steward, privileged old attendant as he was, 
durst say no more; and his grudgingness for a 
little time was quickened, subsequently, more from 
dread of the duchess' displeasure than from ap- 
probation of her spendings. 

"Is it not true^ signer?" asked Rene"e, graci- 
ously, turning to the young physician who stood 
near, when Checco and his papers had departed. 
" Could I refuse aid to these poor creatures, victims 
of my nephew's ambition?" 

"It would not be like your Highness 7 usual 
benignity to do so," replied Francesco, uttering a 
courtier's phrase with more than a courtier's sin- 
cerity. For Rente's beneficence had passed into a 

"Nay, is it not in a manner my duty?" ex 
claimed RenSe, with animation. "Debarred by a 
hard fortune from succouring 'the household of 
* Brantome. 


faith/" she added in a lower tone, "shall I not at 
least succour 'my kinsmen according to the flesh? 7 
"Well, well, patience! The cause of Christ must 
conquer yet." 

She resumed her conference with the young 
surgeon about his destitute and diseased French 
patients, but by and by came back to what was, 
after all, nearest to ReneVfl heart the cause of 
her co-religionists, the Reformed. For them her 
sympathies never ceased to be drawn forth, though 
she seldom dared openly display her partiality, 
because of her stormy lord. But somehow she 
always contrived to be surrounded by the infected. 

"And the latest. news from Rome," quoth the 
duchess, " is that stringent measures of reform 
have begun there : a medal has actually been 
struck representing Paul the Fourth, under the 
type of the most blessed Christ, cleansing the 
temple of its salesmen and money-changers I" 

" I fear that reform, in the mind of a pope who 
has been Grand Inquisitor, will mean also persecu- 
tion," said Francesco, respectfully. 

"He has given earnest of it already," the 
duchess replied, "by the increased activity of the 
Holy Office since his reign began. It is said that 
he even means to cite the more liberal-minded 


cardinals, such as Morone and Foscherari, before 
the Congregation, on suspicion of heterodox opin- 
ions ; and when red hats cannot escape, what are 
humbler heads to do ? Messer Altieri, hold you 
still to your purpose of settling in the Calabrias, 
and thereby withdrawing yourself from these 
stormy times in the North?' 7 

Yes, he persevered in his intention. He did 
not care to utter what was the truth that here he 
could not stay without a compromise of principle 
further than he felt would be faithful to his 
Master. But had he not the highest example of 
compromise before him? He checked himself 
just in time. 

" Colonies of Waldenses have settled in Apulia 
and Calabria, under convention with the lords of 
the soil, and have preserved their religious privi- 
leges intact for nigh two hundred years," said the 
young physician : " I wish to find a resting-place 
among them, being somewhat of kin. My 
mother's ancestors were from the valleys." 

" But I believe," observed the duchess, " that 
they have not kept free of persecution without a 
variety of unworthy compliances; at least," she 
added, and her fair brow coloured slightly, " they 
have been compelled to admit the Roman baptism 


of their children, and to receive the holy eucharist 
at mass " 

" Truly unworthy compliances !" Francesco 
uttered when the duchess paused; "such as I 
trust my God will give me grace to refrain from. 
Most noble lady," he added, repenting lest his 
unwary ejaculation should be misunderstood to 
contain a personal reflection, " I entreat you to 
believe " 

" Only the unguarded utterance of a fervid and 
honest heart," rejoined Renee, looking kindly on 
his embarrassment. "Thy zeal may find reasons 
enow for cooling by and by, signer : thou has not 
had thy finest affections put to the torture yet." 

There was something so deprecatingly gentle in 
her tone and manner that Francesco, as he kissed 
her hand at departure, could willingly have kissed 
the hem of her robe in honour of that noble 

" We may give thee letters to sundry in Rome, 
which will bear thy travelling charges so far," was 
ReneVs last act of grace toward her young brother 
in the faith. 



S r OTWITHSTANDING all the delays, the 
bitter day of parting came none the less 
surely. Poor Bianca took leave of her hus- 
band for his long and perilous journey with many 
a tear and many a lingering embrace; but even in 
the sorrow of separation she had a consolation of 
which the world knows nothing. Her heart was 
stayed on the faithfulness of God ; no great evil 
could he permit to befall his servant, for over such 
he giveth his angels charge. And she could have 
the fullest confidence in prayer for Francesco, as 
knowing that he was one of the Lord's own people, 
dear unto him with a most special love. 

Across the broad Ferrarese marshes, among the 
plantations of maize and millet and the innumer- 
able sluggish streams embanked in deep channels, 
until, behind the pilgrim, the great city had con- 
tracted to a long, low line of roofs, broken by 
towers of churches, he rode as far as Bologna, 
where the mountains begin by a great gathering 

20 305 


of summits behind the minarets and leaning towers 
of the town. Here he lodged with certain brethren, 
after the manner of primitive times, having been 
recommended to them by friends in Ferrara. 

" The underground railroad" of the United 
States was in that age anticipated by the Re- 
formed. Hunted as persistently as any fugitive 
slaves from city to city, a cordon of communica- 
tion from one haunt of heresy to another was need- 
ful. Many towns full of persecutors had yet one 
Mnason, a disciple with whom other disciples 
might seek shelter. 

But desiring to push on as rapidly as possible to 
Florence and to Rome, our pilgrim stayed only a 
night in Bologna; nor visited any of its hundred 
churches, rich in sculpture and fresco, for he re- 
garded them as little better than idol temples : 
men were apt at that time to hold strong opinions. 
Nor did he look through the oldest university in 
Europe ; his hours were too precious for sight-see- 
ing. Yet he contrived to ascend the hill whence 
he might have a last view of Ferrara far away to 
the east, beneath the long line of the Adriatic 
skirting the skies ; and scarce glanced at the broad, 
level plains of Lombardy stretched northward, 
studded with villages and towns, even so far as 


Mantua and Verona, which lay embossed on the 
land darkly, a mass of miniature towers. 

Then slowly he turned his face to the hill-coun- 
try of the Apennines, and entered the chaos of 
heights and hollows, of serrated peaks and ravines, 
which slowly ascends for many a mile to the high- 
est range of the Italian backbone. The path it 
was not entitled to be called a road climbed by 
circuitous ways along the edges of olive-clothed 
dells, and under shadow of crags, and beneath gray 
walls of outlying monasteries, and past many little 
saint-shrines hung up in solitary trees or fixed in 
niches of rock ; hour after hour attaining greater 
altitude, getting into barrener regions, where moss 
and lichen clung to the cliff-faces, despite wild 
storms, and where the view was savagely lonely 
of precipice and torrent and black tarn asleep. 
Those torrents hurried to the river beside Fer- 
rara. Then he would emerge at the summit of 
some pass, and get a glimpse of the plain behind, 
sown with white cities thickly and seamed with 
wandering streams. Occasionally he arrived at a 
piece of table-land bearing a hamlet and some 
fields. In one such place he deemed it expedient 
to stop for the night, and went up to the gaunt, 
stone post-house to seek shelter. 


Straw was the only bed, and black bread and 
olives, with a skin of sour wine, the only fare; but 
Francesco had been used to rough it, and heretics 
could never afford to be particular. He was asleep 
soundly on the straw in the corner of the great 
stone-room with his knapsack or what answered 
to that modern convenience in the sixteenth cen- 
tury under his head, when, toward midnight, he 
was roused by the tramp of many feet and loud 
voices entering the outer door. A military tramp 
he was sure ; and some of the voices spoke a for- 
eign tongue German. 

" What, ho ! mine host ! Rouse the house ! 
Bring lights !" and the trooper strode to the 
kitchen fireplace, kicked the dying brands with his 
foot, and seizing a quantity of the straw which 
carpeted the floor, illuminated the apartment in a 
moment. " Come, mine host ! wine for the defend- 
ers of his Holiness I" The nearly empty flagon on 
the rude table was drained of its dregs into his 
hairy lips in a moment. Francesco lay quite still 
in his corner, and unseen by reason of his envelop- 
ment of straw. 

Others had come in, and bringing fagots from 
the wood-pile, soon had crackling an enormous 
fire, the breadth of the great chimney. 


" Ha ! wouldn't his Holiness like to see a heretic 
roasting in the middle of that !" exclaimed one, 
following his remark with a horse-laugh. 

" As for me/' said another, " I don't wonder at 
his visit to Rome making a heretic of Martin Lu- 
ther; I'm very much of the mind of the Jew who 
was advised by his friend to go there and see all 
the finery of the pope, thinking it must convert 
him ; and sure enough he went and came back, and 
got himself baptized immediately; because he said 
nothing short of a perpetual miracle could keep 
alive a religion which was supported by such 
wicked men as the priests and cardinals." 

" Well done, Urich ! thy tale and jest as usual. 
Comrades, we'll have to help ourselves in this 
house, I foresee" and he looked significantly at 
some dried meat and skins of wine pendant from 
the ceiling " if so be that mine host comes not 
quickly. He doth sleep soundly, this fellow !" 

Then roaring forth a song by Hans Sachs (the 
popular lyrist of the Reformation), either his mu- 
sic or his threats speedily brought down the owner 
of the establishment, a black little Italian, who 
actually cowered before these huge German 
guests, and with a profusion of bows would know 
their pleasure. 


" Pleasure ! why thou sleepest heavily as a cathe- 
dral," said the former spokesman, in tolerable 
Italian, " or thou wouldst know that our pleasure 
is supper at this present. What else should troop- 
ers, hungry off the road, require at this time of 
night? So quicken thyself, for my men are rare 
eaters, and don't understand being kept waiting. 
Meantime, a skin of thy vintage here." 

The expression of the Italian's face, as Francesco 
could see it over the fire while cooking, boded any- 
thing but good-will to these blustering "oltra- 
montani" who had thus stormed his dwelling at 


night's noon. But whenever he had occasion to 
turn around toward the company its suavity was 
delightful to behold. 

The Germans sat round the table with drinking- 
horns busy, or sauntered up and down the room 
conversing in their own tongue. Francesco, still 
lying with his knapsack under his head, could 
make out sufficient of their words to pick up allu- 
sions to their late campaign, and intimations of 
how things were going on in Rome. 

" Paul was badly off for defenders when he sent 
for us," said one. " The idea of us Protestants 
fighting against good Catholics, all for the sake of 
his Holiness !" 


" But did you ever see such fellows as those Ro- 
man arquebusiers ? The very braying of a trum- 
pet would disperse them, albeit their officers were 
all of noble blood !" 

" I hope you valued the pope's blessing properly, 
Plans ?" shouted another. " It's worth half our 
pay, at all events." 

Hans growled : " I would sooner have a ducat 
than five hundred of his benedictions I" And 
darker grew the Italian landlord's face as this last 
observation was repeated to him in his own tongue 
by a soldier at the fireplace. 

" And the Swiss from Unterwalden were a legion 
of angels !" laughed another. " I suppose gold 
chains are part of angelic outfit, since his Holiness 
gave them to the captains ! Ah, mine officer, wert 
thoii there?" 

But the young man who sat at the table without 
touching the wine glanced at his underling sternly 
enough to repress the familiar speech on his lips, 
prompted perhaps by the aforesaid wine. 

Not until their meal was over, and they were 
lying down to sleep on different parts of the floor, 
did the Germans perceive the stranger in the 

u Ho ! what have we here ? A spy ?" 


" A true man !" replied Francesco in their own 
language, springing to his feet. a A true man 
and a Lutheran." 

But he was prepared for the suspicious demeanor 
of the German officer, notwithstanding this decla- 
ration, the hostile scanning from his blue eyes 
under bent brows, for he knew how unsafe the 
times were, and how many doubtful characters 
loitered about Italy. Francesco walked forward 
to the firelight, to reveal his face thoroughly with 
the truth and honesty which he felt were in it. 

"An ? thou wert one of the Holy Office spies, 
Herr Stranger," growled a gigantic trooper, " thou 
wouldst find a short shrift and a shorter rope to 
the nearest tree !" 

" I am sorry to hear you, friend," replied Fran- 
cesco, undauntedly, i( talk so lightly of committing 

" A truce to this," quoth the captain, raising his 
lazy length from the bench where he had been 
sitting. " My men have witnessed an auto-da-fi, 
good sir, and are in no pleasant mood toward any 
emissaries of the Inquisition. But I can perceive, 
if I have any skill in reading the countenance, that 
thou art none such. I would invite thee, if thou 
hast Jiad enough sleep, to some conference over the 


remains of this flagon ; to your slumbers, my 
fellows, and leave this gentleman and myself to 
settle matters." 

The troopers, who had crowded round the table, 
retreated to their cloaks on the straw. Francesco 
soon found that his companion was one of those 
free-thinking soldiers of fortune who sold their 
swords to the higher bidder, and who, while pro- 
fessing to despise the Roman religion and to be 
disciples of Luther, had, in reality, no faith at all, 
but a sort of deism. So long as Francesco dwelt 
on the abuses of the Church, the young man could 
talk glibly enough, but when he rose higher, into 
the atmosphere of spiritual knowledge and feeling, 
the soldier could not follow. He could recite 
passages of the " Eulenspiegel," that celebrated 
German satiric poem, wherein the priests are 
ridiculed as sensual and gluttonous, keeping hand 
some and luxurious establishments, with fat but- 
teries and groaning supper- tables. These he much 
enjoyed, as likewise the belligerent passages of 
Luther's works ; but the gentle spirit of the gospel 
found no echo in his heart. 

" It is true," said he, " what Ulrich von Hutten 
wrote in his ' Roman Trinity :' i There are three 
things that Rome does not believe the immor- 


tality of the soul, the resurrection of the dead, and 
hell/ I thought it an exaggeration, till I saw for 

" After all/ 7 responded Altieri, " it is not what 
Rome disbelieves, but what we believe, that is the 
great concern for us, and on which our eternal safety 

" As to that," observed the German, " what a 
pity it is that even the Reformed camp is splitting 
up into divisions, and that their greatest doctors 
cannot settle on what should be believed ! The- 
ology does not lie in a soldier's way." 

" Pardon me," said Altieri, " but I can imagine 
no closer concern of anybody's than how he may 
be saved." 

"Oh, of course," answered the other, shifting 
his position somewhat uneasily ; " and we all know 
the standard doctrine of Justification by Faith, 
that on which gallant old Luther so bravely did 
battle with the popedom : he had the spirit of a 
Paladin, and deserved to have been born a general, 
instead of a miner. I believe they all agree on 
that point. But they have had a regular split on 
the matter of the Real Presence ; and Luther up- 
holds something very like the old Roman doctrine, 
and Zwiugli, the Swiss preacher, says the bread is 


nothing but bread ; and where the captains differ 
so much, how shall the privates know which to 
believe ?" 

" But that is also a question wide of personal 
salvation/' said Altieri. " I think that Luther 
and Zwingli have met in heaven ere now, and 
wondered at their differences, while each adoring 
the most blessed Christ who purchased their eternal 
pardon. And, my friend, it is the great matter for 
us to get to heaven likewise, to be forgiven all our 
sins now, and to have the divine presence of the 
Saviour in our hearts as the earnest of glory 

i( Yes, yes, of course," replied the officer, pulling 
his fair moustache over his red lips. "Of course 
that is the main matter. But we were speaking of 
divisions in the Reformed camp ; and the latest is 
that headed by Lelius Socinus, who has gathered 
the anti-Trinitarians into a body, and will have 
none of the Divinity of Christ, and runs a tilt at 
various other of the received doctrines, following 
the footsteps of Servetus; and these all Italian 
heretics, too." 

" God pardon them for darkening the light of 
his truth and dishonouring his most Divine Son," 
prayed Francesco. "Sir Officer, you and I may 


never meet again; and I would say to you, permit 
not your mind so to run after these curious points 
of doctrine, or to speculate in heresies, as to forget 
to ensure the regeneration of your own heart by 
the power of the Divine Spirit." 

"It is clear thou art no Socinian, at all events," 
observed the officer. "Methinks we might get an 
hour's sleep ere dawn ; and as thou hast given me 
good counsel about my soul, I would give thee 
good counsel about thy body: be somewhat less 
free-spoken when thou goest further on the road; 
for now that Philip and Paul pull together, the 
conjunction of two such baleful stars omens a fiery 
persecution, and 'tis hard if aught in Italy be left 
breathing that opposes itself to the papacy. Every 
village and public place is swarming with spies ; 
hence my men's suspicion of thee but a while 
since; and citizens disappear from their very 
homes, kidnapped into the Inquisition. Thou Imst 
been slack at the wine-skin, friend;" the fact being 
that Francesco had not even touched it. "Well, 
as I intend to pay honourably you see we secured 
our 'gelt' before leaving Rome I may drain the 
horn; here's to thy health and safe journey, an 
thou wilt but be prudent, Mcssrr Traveller." 



*HE highest pass of these Tuscan Apennines 
was yet to be surmounted. There were no 
grand gorges, like the Splugen, no sublimity 
of desolation ; but for miles the path wound away 
without habitation or sign of man, save a rude 
cross or cairn of stones, perhaps marking the site 
of some deed of violence. It was a country emi- 
nently suited for the transaction of banditti busi- 
ness, and is celebrated for such even to this day. 

As he climbed, Francesco felt the wind becom- 
ing stronger, as if resenting the invasion of its 
nurseries on the hill-tops; and from transverse 
openings into glens it would burst furiously at 
times and belabour the solitary man, who strug- 
gled steadfastly on. He thought he should scarce 
have a harder bit of his journey than this. A 
final buffetting visited him at the turn down the 
western slope, but thence the greatest difficulty 
over. From naked gray crag he descended upon 
lichen and moss from moss upon grassy nooks 



where wild goats pastured from these upon 
patches of vines; and now the streams all flowed 
downward to the Arno, not to the Po. Somehow 
he felt as if it were another link severed between 
him and home. 

Soon hamlets and villages sprinkled the valleys, 
and flowers bloomed abundantly in sunny spots, 
for was he not approaching Fiorenza la Bella the 
flower of Italy set in the midst of its garden? 
Warm southern airs blew over the plains of the 
Arno, past mulberry groves and olive thickets and 
chestnut copses : a fair land and a goodly was this 
of Tuscany, flowing with wine and oil at the in- 
dustry of its peasants. 

Early one morning he looked from the hill 
which commands a view of Florence. Dominant 
over all, the vast dome of its cathedral curved 
grandly against the blue distance. He gazed upon 
the silver Arno spanned by busy bridges, and the 
many-coloured marble campanile rising amid a 
maze of palaces. All around were lands of the 
deepest verdure, blossoming into white villas and 
cottages, enclosed by lines of superb mountains. 

Francesco descended into this panorama of love- 
liness, and an hour afterward found himself on one 
of the bridges aforesaid, being that Ponte Yecchio 


built by so old an architect as Taddeo Gaddi of 
the fourteenth century. It was clustered closely 
over with shops and houses, and some of the 
busiest traffic in Florence went on in its narrow 
thoroughfare. The traveller with staff and knap- 
sack made his way to a central house, a little 
workshop of a lapidary, adorned with handsome 
specimens of " pietro duro/' the special jewelry of 
Tuscany, set out in cases to tempt the passer-by. 

A customer was haggling with the gray-bearded 
proprietor of the shop over some article of this 
precious inlaid work. So Francesco merely glanced 
into the place, and, turning back, paused near by 
at the opening in the side of the bridge which re- 
vealed the favourite view of Michael Angelo. 
Framed like a bright-coloured picture in the old 
stone buttresses, he could see a massive brown 
castle standing out against a hill of rich foliage : 
clusters of houses and church-towers lined the 
slopes to the Arno : dense banks of verdure-inter- 
spersed woods, hoary crags crowned the prospect. 
Many dwellers on that bridge had seen the greatest 
artist of all time stop to gaze at the familiar view, 
and never grow weary of drinking into his eyes 
its details of beauty. 

Francesco returned, to find the bargain not as 


yet completed, so he looked over the specimens of 
"pietro duro," and refused to be served by the 
'prentice lad who stood up from his bench at seeing 
the travel-soiled stranger, and who kept a sharp 
eye on him after that suspicious refusal. At length 
the two voluble Tuscans had ended their chaffer- 
ing, and the lapidary, depositing certain broad 
pieces in his pouch, came over with a grave polite- 
ness to Francesco and inquired his pleasure. 

" I would know the cost of these ear- rings," and 
he singled out a pair covered over so closely with 
turquoises that the gold setting was scarce visible. 
Then bending toward the lapidary while he peered 
into the jewels for the mark of their value, Fran- 
cesco whispered a word or two. 

The shop-owner raised his head slowly and 
fixed a piercing gaze on the stranger. " These ear- 
jewels are cheap at fifty lire" he said. "Ste- 
fano !" to the 'prentice youth aforesaid, who was 
within easy earshot of any conversation, " prepare 
thee, and take this casket to the Marchesana Pam- 
fili, that she may choose certain of the rings ; and 
hasten, lad, and bring back a ready account of what 
is trusted to thee." 

When he had gone, the lapidary again took a 
long investigating look at the stranger. "Didst 


thou not know Monsignor Carnesecchi ?" inquired 
the latter. " I have heard him speak of thee as 
of a good friend in Florence." 

" Since he became a heretic and fell under the 
ban of our holy father the pope, but few good 
Catholics know aught of him whom you mention," 
replied the other evasively, and taking out fresh 
ear-rings. i( These, signor, I can let you have for 
thirty lire." * 

"But Pietro Martire Yermigli has lodged in 
thy house," persisted Francesco. 

A visible alarm was growing in the honest lapi- 
dary's spirit. " Before they became heretics, I will 
acknowledge my acquaintance with those persons," 
he answered, closing his last casket nervously. 

" Come, come," said Francesco ; " a little more, 
and thou wouldst deny even thy Master. Admit 
me to sit on thy working-bench for a few moments, 
and I will satisfy thee that I am a true man and 
no spy.' Hearest thou not my speech that it is no 
' lingua Toscana/ but from the north side of the 
Apennines ?" 

" Yet, my good sir, there be villains north of 
the Po, as on the Arno," returned the lapidary. 

The young physician laughed at the fallacy of 

* About sixty dollars. 


his own proof. But he had papers in his pocket 
enough to convince the most incredulous of his 
truth. And so it came to pass that when the boy 
Stefano returned, he found the stranger disencum- 
bered of staff and knapsack, seated in the little 
upper room with the lozenge-shaped glass case- 
ment, and tended by the lapidary's own hands. 

But it was not till nightfall, when the shops on 
the Ponte Vecchio were closed, and lights began 
to gleam from the darkening casements as though 
to challenge the flashing forth of stars above, that 
the gray-bearded jeweller and his country visitor 
had much converse. He brought Francesco to the 
uppermost room in his narrow house, where was 
another lozenge casement looking out over the 
Arno as it lapsed away peacefully beneath the old 
bridge and its freight of houses. And here the 
new friends, drawn together by that single bond of 
faith in Christ, talked till the night wore on and 
the stars had travelled much of their % silvery 

" I am obliged to keep very quiet, as you saw 
to-day," said the lapidary, "and to be most cau- 
tious in my speech ; there are so many spies going, 
an honest man hardly knows how to walk without 
setting foot in the trap." 


" And are many like-minded with you in the 
city ?" inquired Francesco. 

11 A few perhaps " answered his host, cough- 
ing behind his hand, as he glanced round appre- 
hensively. " It's best not to mention names, for 
the very walls have ears these times." 

" Well, well, three stories above the river, I 
would fancy we should be free from eavesdrop- 
pers," quoth the new-comer. 

" Best to be safe best to be safe," observed the 
other. " But Florence never made much way in 
the Reformed doctrines ; she lost her opportunity, I 
trow, when Savonarola preached to our fathers. 
Besides, we Florentines have had two of our citi- 
zens in the papal chair of late ; we could not be so 
ungrateful as to spurn what promoted us to such 

" Yet you boast the names of Carnesecchi and 
Peter Martyr," said Francesco. 

" Ay, and of two translators of the sacred Scrip* 
tures, Brucioli and Teofilo," asserted the lapidary. 
" Oh, our city hath not been wanting in uphold- 
ers of the truth, though she has no great number 
of Reformed," he added. 

" I do not remember the name of Teofilo," re- 
marked his guest. 


The lapidary rose, and from behind a panel in 
the tiling of the wall drew forth two books, " My 
treasures," said he, " and enough to burn me 
should the Holy Office get scent t of them ; which 
I pray may never be the case, for I fear that I 
should dishonour my Lord and Master by a denial. 
Brother, those words of thine this day pierced me 
to the heart ' a little more, and thou wouldst deny 
the Chris ' because they are so true. Brother, 
I am one of the weak souls ; I have not martyr's 
grace at all. I could not face the rack or the stake, 
nor, I fear me, even the prison- walls." 

a If thy Lord tries thee, he will give strength 
for the hour," gently responded Francesco. And 
he told how he had himself been stretched on the 
rack at Locarno, and how the suffering, though in- 
tense, was no greater than he could bear. 

" And I have been base enough to doubt thee for 
a moment, my brother !" cried the lapidary, with 
tears in his old eyes, and grasping the stranger's 
hand. " Nay, let me embrace thee, thou noble 
confessor of the faith !" and the impulsive Floren- 
tine kissed Francesco's cheek. " Thou art one of 
the brave souls who put all the world to shame, 
and shalt be crowned first on the resurrection 


This last revelation of Francesco's quite broke 
away every remaining barrier of reserve on the part 
of his entertainer. Had he been the first noble- 
man of Duke Cosmo's court, he could not have 
been honoured more by the lapidary ; for men com- 
monly accord the highest admiration to those mental 
qualities which are most opposite to their own. 

" I w r as about to show thee Teofilo's translation, 
signor ; it is the New Testament, published at Ly- 
ons in 1551, and is rendered in remarkably pure 
and choice Italian, whereas Brucioli is rough 
enough at times. Nevertheless, I would not give 
up this old Bible of Antonio Brucioli's for all the 
new versions they can print, for this it was which 
led me first into the truth twenty-five years ago, 
signor. And I am a very babe in Christ still, 
albeit my gray hairs should speak me a master in 
Israel. I fear at the very shadow of persecution ! 
But He who looked so gently at Peter will not dis- 
card me : that is my faith and hope, signor." 

" Still thou livest far below thy privilege, friend. 
God empowers thee to know that thou art redeemed, 
not for thine own merits, nor wilt thou be con- 
demned for thy demerits or shortcomings ; for 
Christians are perfect through the comeliness of the 
blessed Christ upon them, now and for ever." 


" Ah !" said the lapidary, " so sayeth that good 
book of Messer Paleario's, 'On the Benefit of the 
Death of Christ/ a treatise which hath been of 
unspeakable comfort to me at times a most sweet, 
pious and simple book. See here, signor," and he 
drew from the same sliding panel heretical 
" tratto," eagerly turning over the leaves to his 
favourite passage. "How blessed are these 
thoughts : f He/ that is God, ' hath already pun- 
ished and chastised all our sins in his own dearly 
beloved Son, and consequently proclaims a general 
pardon to all mankind ; which everybody enjoyeth 
that believeth the gospel. . . . Oh ; great unkind- 
ness ! that we who profess ourselves Christians, 
and hear that the Son of God hath taken all our 
sins upon him, and washed them out with his 
precious blood, suffering himself to be fastened to 
the cross for our sakes, should nevertheless make 
as though we would justify ourselves, and purchase 
forgiveness of our sins by our own works ; as who 
should say that the deserts and bloodshed of Jesus 
Christ were not enough to do it, unless we add our 
righteousness, which is altogether defiled/ Signor 
Altieri, what think you? are these riot fine 
words ?" 

" Truly," answered Francesco. " They have the 


very pith and marrow of the gospel in them : me- 
thinks it will go hard but Rome fix her claws in 
the author. Milan is perilous ground for so noted 
a Reformer as he : 'twere well he placed the Alps 
or the ocean between him and the Holy Office." 

And Rome did fulfil her vengeful will when she 
burned him on the 3d of July, 1570, twelve years 
forward from the date when Francesco was 

* The Presbyterian Board of Publication has published 
" Aonio Paleario and his Friends, with a revised edition of ' The 
Benefit of Christ's Death,' " by the Eev. Wm. M. Blackburn. 




7rf 'LL tell thee a tale I heard of that devout 
and learned Aonio," pursued the lapidary's 
guest. " He being asked one day what was 
the chief ground on which men should rest for 
their salvation, answered immediately, ' Jesus 
Christ ;' and being still asked the second ground, 
he still answered, ' Christ ;' and being asked the 
third ground, he answered, ' Christ/ Truly he is 
a most pious Christian, not only in words and 
writings, but also in deeds." 

" Ah," quoth the lapidary, with a great sigh, 
and bending forward his arms upon his knees, 
" the same Aonio is of opinion that in such times 
as these it becometh not a Christian to die in his 
bed. Alas, my friend, I feel not within me grace 
to profess the same. I am a most timid soldier in 
the heavenly warfare; one screw of that rack of 
which thou speakest a while since would make me 
say anything. Nothing astonishes me more than 



the fortitude of some men. Thou hast heard of 
the noble Galeazzo Trezia, in the Milanese ?" 

And he went on to tell the circumstances attend- 
ant on his being burnt alive for the faith of Christ 
the unflinching endurance of the torture, when 
some apparently trivial concessions would have 
saved him. 

" I was in company the other night/ 7 said Fran- 
cesco, " with a German officer, who had late news 
from the North. Since Alva has been made 
governor of the Spanish provinces, the persecution 
there is redoubled. Two persons were burnt alive 
only the other day one a monk, who was placed 
in a pulpit beside the stake in hope he would recant ; 
but he only proclaimed the truth most loudly, and 
was driven into the fire with blows and curses. No 
matter : the angels had benedictions for him." 

" Well, well, pazienza !" exclaimed the lapidary, 
after a moment's pause. " Let us have patience. 
The Divine Lord sees it all. It only sets one 
longing for the New Jerusalem, friend." And in 
a low, melodious voice he commenced to chant that 
very ancient hymn, descended from the primitive 
Church, a voice of all ages 

"Coelestis urbs Jerusalem, 
Beata pacis visio," 


concerning the " heavenly city, the blessed vision 
of peace/' which is yet to come down from God 
among men, heaven's last great boon to earth. 

" You see/' he said, pausing in the chant, " I 
dare not sing one of Savonarola's or Brucioli's 
hymns, for they are deemed heretical, and who 
knows how I might be overheard? A boat pass- 
ing the Arno below or a spy in the next window 
ah, my friend, men have to be cautious these 
times, when the Inquisition is all eyes and ears, 
and a grand inquisitor wears the tiara. But I find 
hymns enow in the services of the Church ; and 
Latin is all right, they think, whereas Italian 
would be suspicious, and I'm in no good odour 
already, though I pay my dues so regularly, and 
my old friend Fra Battista lets me off very easily 
at confession twice a year. He's half a Lutheran 
himself the good old monk ! and when I told 
him that I read the writings of Fra Girolamo, 
1 Thou dost well, my son/ quoth he : ' that was a 
most holy doctor, and unjustly put to death.' 
But, you perceive, he knew to whom he was talk- 
ing. Signer, he would not be so open-mouthed to 
everybody, though he generally has a volume of the 
Vulgate in his sleeve ; and . I suspect he's not 
thought much of as a confessor he has been under 


discipline, I know but he is very aged, and they 
let him alone." 

" It is wonderful," said Francesco, as if reflect- 
ing, " how many monks have simultaneously been 
taught the truth of God in their cells, in most 
unlikely places for the light to penetrate. Our 
church in Locarno, which, as I told thee, gave, 
three years since, two hundred families to exile for 
Christ's cause, began with three members in 1530 
one of them a monk named Balthasar, who 
wrote to the churches of Germany for books ; and 
from that spark God kindled a great flame. It 
may yet be so with Florence." 

" Alas !" said the lapidary, " the cares of this 
world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the 
lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, 
and it becometh unfruitful among us Florentines. 
Even the eloquence of Ochino produced but a 
temporary sensation ; for when the heart is a 
money-bag, where is room for Christ? Ah, the 
Fra Savonarola knew us well. 'You ought 
already to be saints/ quoth he, t having heard so 
much, yet it appears to me you will not under- 
stand ;' and it is thus still." 

" What ! you have written copies of Savonarola's 
sermons ?" 


" Si, signer copies descended to me from my 
father, who heard him when a young man, and 
when printed books were scarcely known. Here is 
his treatise on the fifty-first Psalm a most sweet 
and comfortable writing for Christian souls. Thou 
knowest it, signer? Then thou hast drawn peace 
from these blessed words : ' Here am I, a great sin- 
ner, to whom the Lord God has pardoned many sins, 
washing them out by the blood of his Christ, and 
covering them by his passion. Why, Lord, didst 
thou give me this knowledge of thy Son ? Why 
this faith in him ? Didst thou give it me that I 
might have the more sorrow ; seeing my redemp- 
tion, and not being able to attain it ?' 

" Signor," observed the lapidary, pausing with 
his finger on the yellow page under the line, 
" that's where most men stop who call themselves 
Christians. Seeing the redemption, but not know- 
ing how to attain to it ! And the Roman Church 
steps in and says, ' Do so-and-so : take a pilgrim- 
age, buy so many indulgences, keep your sins 
balanced and blotted by confessions and penances ; 
so shalt thou grasp this redemption wrought by 
the Son of God/ Fra Savonarola knew better: 
he knew that men had but to reach forth the hand 
of faith." 


Again the reader bent his eyes on the page, and 
finished the passage of the commentary which lie 
had begun : " i No, certainly ; but thou didst give 
me this knowledge, that I, seeing pardon prepared 
for me, should take it by the grace of Christ.' " 

It was a joy of no usual sort to this poor lapi- 
dary to meet with one before whom he could con- 
fess his faith, sure of a sympathetic response. Now 
his pale features glowed, his deep-set eyes kindled, 
the irresolute lines of his face seemed set with 
strength. He could have been brave in a mul- 
titude, but singly his soul cowered. Before we 
censure him, or secretly despise him, let us ask our- 
selves, How bold have I been to-day in confessing 
my Master, Christ? Have I manfully faced not 
stake or sword, but the lesser sharpness of a sneer 
or smile, for his sake ? 

Do we not all too much cover up our Chris- 
tianity ? Is there not too strenuous an effort to 
speak the language and walk in the ways of those 
to whom our Redeemer is an obnoxious stranger? 
And what is this compliance but another and less 
justifiable development of the timidity which 
caused many a weak believer in the sixteenth cen- 
tury to hide his faith. And had not bolder spirits 
taken the lead men who counted not their lives 


dear unto them the world would never have been 
blessed with the Reformation. 

The lapidary would not permit his guest to go 
away early in the morning, as he would have 
wished. " No," said the timid man, " they might 
inform on me for entertaining secret envoys, and 
get me into I know not what trouble : thou must 
be seen by. the neighbours thou must come to 
look at the chief places in Florence." 

" But I bear letters from the Duchess of Ferrara 
to Rome," replied Francesco ; " I know not how 
they can brook delay : nevertheless I would not 
bring thee into trouble, my brother ; I will stay 
until two hours before noon." 

" And I will direct thee to a certain house in 
Siena, through which thy road liest, and where are 
brethren who will receive thee joyfully," said his 
host. And so next morning, while the early sun 
glittered on the snow-browed Apennines, and on the 
silver Arno, and over all the marble palaces of 
Fiorenza la Bella, the little shop was left in care 
of the apprentice Stefano, while its owner and his 
north-country guest sallied forth to look at the 
lions. The lapidary was very proud of his beau- 
tiful city, and especially of that masterpiece of 
architecture, the Duomo, which is described as a 


very " mountain of precious marbles and mosaics,' 7 
and before which the poet Dante would sit for 
hours together on the stone afterward engraven 
with the title, " Sasso di Dante," gazing up at the 
glorious pile. Beside it rose the campanile of 
Giotto, a most unequalled bell-tower, slender and 
' ; graceful as a lily of paradise." And palace after 
palace, tier above tier, looked over the wondrous 
piazza which held these two gems of art, the 
cathedral and the campanile. 

But one spot was more sacred than all the rest, 
though unglorified by statue or mausoleum the 
spot where the pro to- martyr of Italy had suffered 
after he had fulfilled his course as her earliest 

" I am sixty-seven years old, and was but a 
bambino at the time," quoth the lapidary, smooth- 
ing his ragged beard. " but well I remember one 
or two incidents of that scene. I bethink me of 
holding my father's hand he weeping the while ; 
and before my memory comes the high black stake 
a strong wind driving aside the smoke and flame, 
so that for long the dead body chained to the stake 
was not touched, but the arm was still stretched 
forth as if to bless the people. I remember before 
that, the majestic figure ascending the ladder gaz- 


ing on the multitude, his lips moving: my father 
has since told me that he, the heresiarch, the con- 
tumacious son of the Church, repeated in that aw- 
ful moment the Apostles' Creed. These are the 
only distinct memories I have of what I wit- 
nessed ; but my father often made a tale for us 
children of the ordeal by fire which Fra Savonarola 
was willing to pass through to establish the truth 
of his doctrine." 

"Was it riot on the same spot as the burning?" 
said Francesco. 

" Yes, signor, next to the Golden Lion, and op- 
posite that street leading to Santa Cecilia. I have 
myself a dim remembrance of the huge pile of 
fagots and brushwood erected for the rival friars 
to pass through, eighty feet long, and as high as a 
man ; a narrow passage ran its whole length. Oil 
and pitch and gunpowder were poured on the wood 
to make the burning better. I was but a bambino 
at the time.' 7 repeated the good lapidary " only 
seven years of age yet I think those sights did 
terrify me for all my life long ! The most ordi- 
nary fire bringeth to my thought a martyrdom." 

u But the friars did not enter the pile ?" 

" No, for the Franciscans and Dominicans could 
not agree as to the manner. First, the Franciscans 


would not permit Fra Domenico, who was Savon- 
arola's champion, to bring the crucifix with him 
into the flames ; and when that was settled, they 
would not permit him to carry the host in his 
hands, lest their god should be burnt. Finally, a 
tremendous storm of hail and rain beat down upon 
the pile, and extinguished their fire : the Almighty 
had decided as to the impiety of such ordeals. 
But my brother, there is a listener" looking round 
apprehensively "and this is a spot of ill savour 
let us come away ;" and the lapidary began to 
move off. 

Francesco perceived that the piazza was filling 
with its daily traffickers, and that a certain con- 
tadino, with his heavy ox-cart, had drawn near 
enough to be in earshot, had he so listed ; while 
the dull countenance of the peasant gave him suf- 
ficient assurance that he could not act the spy. 
But it was not so easy to convince the lapidary that 
his fears overrated the danger. " My brother, 
my brother," he whispered, " thou knowest not the 
wiles of these men : Italy is full of spies. Two 
men cannot stop to speak without the Inquisition 
hearing. One cannot be too cautious;" and he 
stopped not till he had left the piazza altogether. 

" But there is a thing also in my memory, for I 



was a man when it took place," he said, pointing to 
the front of the old Palace of the Signory, on which 
appeared nine scutcheons of successive govern- 
ments ; and between the arms of the Duke of 
Athens and the republic was carven the monogram 
of the Eedeemer of the world, recording the fact 
that in the year 1528 the grand council of Flor- 
ence had formally elected the Lord Jesus Christ 
to be their king ! 

" ' My kingdom is not of this world/ " repeated 
Francesco, gently. " They did not give him the 
rule of their hearts, which is the royalty he 

The friends, now making their way to the skirts 
of the town, passed the grand Pitti Palace, and 
through divers strange old winding streets, dense 
as passages in a rabbit-warren. "And there," 
quoth the lapidary, in a reverential tone, " in the 
Church of Santa Maria Novella, is Cimabue's 
great picture of the most blessed Madonna, brought 
thither in proceesion two hundred and fifty years 
ago. Also certain frescoes by Fra Angelico." 

When the young physician saw the cowled figure 
that passed by, shuffling in sandals, before the words 
were well spoken, he understood the reason of the 
reverence in the speaker's manner. His was a 



scared soul, truly, " through fear of death all its 
lifetime subject to bondage ;" and yet which of us, 
in our safe century, dare censure him ? Francesco, 
who had himself endured the rack, could only pity 



HE first stage lay through a very beautiful 
country to Siena; passing through villages 
which looked lovely at a distance white, 
nestling among vine leaves and lemon copses but, 
near at hand, changed into rows of flat-roofed, 
ugly houses, filthy and dark within, with brown 
children rolling about in the sunshine outside, 
while the women spun or loitered as pleased them. 
Thus the human share of the landscape was not 
inviting, but Nature made up for such blots by 
her own exceeding beauty of hill and vale. What 
a wondrous colouring! what grouping of moun- 
tainous masses ! Sometimes bare marble shafts 
and peaks sometimes rounded, verdurous heights 
in the foreground ; and the marvellously beautiful 
vegetation of Tuscany covering all the lowlands 
almond trees drooping with blossom, orange and 
citron groves, copses of fig and olive on the 
earth a perfect carpet of flowers. But the roads 
were atrocious, and there were few passengers, albeit 



Francesco was on the northern highway to the 
world's capital. 

Tuscan peasants worked in the fields here and 
there, shaded from the sun by their broad-leaved 
straw hats ; great, patient oxen were their helpers, 
with enormous strength and stolidity, ploughing, 
or harrowing, or drawing burdens ; harnessed by 
their huge, horned heads. Spotless cream-colour 
wet'e they, of the very race which had tilled the 
soil around Mantua when Virgil was a boy. The 
bullock-carts might have had equally antique de- 
scent, their wheels being each a solid wooden circle, 
and the linchpin like the stem of a young pine. 

The sun had set when our traveller approached 
Siena, that city enthroned in the very crater of a 
spent volcano, and whose streets gush up over the 
edge, and flow down the cone-sides in intricate 
lines of building bounded by the old walls. Here 
had the great preacher Ochino been born, and here 
had Paleario taught for many a year, ostensibly 
Greek and Latin, but a good deal more besides, 
which was not so harmless to Mother Church. 
Here also was the very seat and throne of St. 
Catherine, whose house is yet shown to adoring 
pilgrims, and who is to this hour the town's deity 
as truly as ever was Diana of the Ephesians. 


Thence another day's journey brought Francesco 
to the edge of the papal dominions. Nearing 
Aquapendente the second forenoon, he looked out 
for some place of refreshment and shelter from the 
hottest hours of the sun. Seeing a flask and vine 
branches hanging over a doorway, he accepted the 
sign of hospitality and approached, though be- 
neath the thick shade of some mulberry trees 
alongside were sitting soldiers, whom a slight 
development of his Florentine friend's caution 
would have taught him to avoid. 

Some of the pope's guard, which fact he did 
not know, or he would have thought twice before 
entering the osteria. But having a good conscience, 
and being constitutionally void of nervousness, he 
sat down upon one of the benches to rest and 
enjoy the cool, while before him lay the wide 
landscape shimmering in a hazy heat. 

"That fellow looks like an ' oltra-montano," 3 
remarked one thick-headed trooper to another; 
observing through eyes which much wine might 
have muddled were it in the power of wine to do 
so, but it could as soon have influenced the 
wooden cask in which it was shipped. 

"Ay, that he does or like a north-country 
heretic; they say Lombardy is full of them," 


responded the comrade addressed, taking another 
pull at the flask. " His clothes and his tongue are 
not Tuscan, I'll warrant you. Pity our barisello is 
not here ; he has a sharp nose for smelling out 

" Ho ! good friend," quoth the principal trooper, 
standing up and beckoning him : " you seem 
lonely over there ; come and join us in our wine- 
skin. Nothing like good fellowship between 
travellers !" 

Francesco hesitated for an instant: he was 
already uncomfortable by reason of their glances 
and whisperings, and knew not whether it were 
best to advance or retreat. His frank disposition 
and his tired limbs inclined him to comply with 
the invitation prudential motives suggested the 
pursuance of his journey. 

" The fact is, my friend," added the soldier, ap- 
proaching him as he buckled on a rapier which 
had till then lain against the tree-trunk, "we're 
suspicious about you, and can't let you stir till our 
captain comes back from the town yonder. So 
you may as well come and sit with us, and let's 
while away the time in talk." 

" Certainly, good sirs," replied the young physi- 
cian, with an alacrity partly assumed, and looking 


up at the rough, bearded faces which had gathered 
round. '"I shall be ready to give account of my- 
self to your officer : at the same time I warn you 
how you detain a courier from her Highness the 
illustrious Duchess of Ferrara, bearing letters to 
certain noble personages in Rome." 

For a moment the troopers glanced at each 
other ; then the spokesman said : 

" We have that on your own word, messer ; but 
be it ever so true, Ferrara's heretical quarters to 
hail from, and as to the duchess, she's known to be 
out and out a Lutheran. So you must wait till our 
barisello returns; no discourtesy to you, messer, for 
we'd serve her Highness herself in the same way. 
Our Holy Father makes no apology to any one on 
his own territories, and we've got orders to arrest 
every suspicious person and search him." 

There was nothing for it but submission; and 
so Francesco unstrapped his knapsack and laid it 
by him on the bench, in some misgivings as to 
w T hat results an examination of its contents might 
bring on his head. For he now remembered, with 
ala/m, that the book of Gospels, done into Italian 
by Brucioli, and usually carried in his bosom, he 
had hastily laid in his pack that morning when 
leaving the inn where he had slept. 


Had the deadliest adder been spied nestling 
among the travellers^ poor clothes in the bundle, 
the worthy sergeant of the guard could not have 
expressed in countenance and gesture more hate 
and horror than at sight of the printed volume. 
A line of it he could not read ; enough for him 
that it was a book, belonging to a man who 
acknowledged his origin to be Ferrara. 

" My friend/' said Francesco, gently, " it is not 
a heretical book ; it is a book highly honoured in 
the Church, and to be found in every convent 
library through Italy : nay, in the very Vatican 
thou wouldst find it in the Holy Father's cham- 
ber ! Stay, and I will read for thee certain pas- 
sages to prove how good it is." 

And he lifted the volume from among the things 
in his pack, and, opening it on the table, turned 
over some leaves. 

"A book which the Holy Father would have in 
his chamber! and in every convent library!" mut- 
tered the sergeant: "truly if that be so, no good 
Christian can be harmed by having it or hearing 
it. Go on, messer, so as it be not as stupid as 
worthy Friar Ambrogio's sermons." 

"Whereat I fell asleep last Sunday," observed a 


"This is a book of histories of the life of the 
most blessed Christ/' said the traveller. "And 
for that ye are soldiers, I will read you somewhat 
about soldiers, because there is here what suits 
each man to his profit. Behold, then, what Roman 
soldiers did to the most blessed Christ our Saviour;' 7 
and he commenced to read the nineteenth chapter 
of John's Gospel, at the first verse, slowly and 

As he proceeded the attention of his listeners 
became more fixed; even the wine-skin was ne- 
glected: their black eyes presently glowed and 
lightened as every fresh insult to the Lord of life 
and glory passed the reader's lips. The fascination 
of the most thrilling tale of all time was upon them. 
Suppressed murmurs bespoke their interest: "O 
che meraviglia! what marvel! Ahi poltroni! ah, 
the villains! who would have believed it? who 
ever saw the like?" And when the chapter was 
ended their exclamations were yet louder. 

"My friends,' 7 said the reader, "behold what the 
most blessed Christ suffered to redeem us and to 
open to us the kingdom of heaven! Think you 
he could not have had hosts of angels in a moment 
from the skies to defend him? But if he had not 
endured all this, we could not have been saved. 


Behold his love! Will you not love him in re- 
turn? He stretches out his arms from that cross 
his hands pierced and dropping blood: your sins 
nailed him there!" 

" Well, I never forget to say a pater and five 
aves every night," said the sergeant; "and the 
blessed Virgin has a special care of those who re- 
member her ; and I never pass her shrine without 
an obeisance, and a prayer if I've time. That was 
a fine story of the brigand who always prayed to 
her before every robbery; and when at last he was 
hanged for his misdeeds, she kept her white hands 
under his feet for two whole days, holding him up 
invisibly; and when the executioner tried to finish 
his job with the sword, she turned aside every 
blow. So you see the benefit of remembering the 
Madonna !" 

Just as this notable legend was finished, the 
clatter of hoofs announced the return of the 
barisello, who flung himself off his horse into the 
group, saying, "What have we here?" 

All his danger, partially forgotten in the excite- 
ment of his reading, rushed back on Francesco's 
heart with a sickening shock. He raised his eyes 
to the bronzed face of the man in whose hands lay 
his fate. Where had he seen it before? 


Gravely the captain listened to his sergeant's 
recital, and inspected the things found in the pack. 
Then he demanded to see the letters entrusted to 
the courier by the Duchess Renee, which Fran- 
cesco delivered up under protest. But the barisello 
merely looked at the seals and gave them back. 
Then he walked away a little distance under the 
mulberry trees, out of hearing, beckoning the 
prisoner to follow : 

"Dost not remember Andrea d'Agnolo, in the 
guard-room at Locarno? For the sake of all thy 
suffering then, comrade, I'll let thee off this time. 
Pack up thy bundle and be off, for I can't always 
answer for my fellows ; and if thoti hadst not those 
letters with thee, I should bring. thee before the 
prior at yon convent," pointing to a square white 
building emerging from thickets of olive and 
cypress on the slope of the hill, not far off, " that 
he might judge of the contents of that book I see 
with thee. I've little doubt myself though I 
can't read a word, thanks to the blessed Madonna ! 
I've little doubt but it's the 'Yangelo, the gospel- 
book, which would get thee the lowest dungeon in 
the Inquisition an' thou wert a cardinal. Take 
my advice, and before going a mile farther burn 
it under the fagots in mine host's fire ; for thou 


mayest not meet an old acquaintance at every 

" I thank thee for thy kindness, good friend," 
replied Francesco; "but, as touching my book, the 
best I could wish thee for the next world would be 
that thou shouldst grasp the hope and the faith 
that are in it ; then wouldst thou not counsel me to 
burn it, but rather to keep it most sacredly, as 
the words of my best Friend and only Saviour. 
Mayest thou, good barisello, yet know in thy heart 
the preciousness of this word, which bringeth salva- 
tion, and embrace the most blessed Christ in the 
arms of thy soul's desire." 

D'Agnolo was lounging back to his troopers, and 
made no answer. 

" Comrades," he observed, " Fve spoken with 
this fellow, and find he is what he represents him- 
self; and so we will allow him to pursue his jour- 
ney. But it was a proper zeal to detain him until 
ye were assured of his nature and business. Now, 
messer, as thou hast perchance had enough of rest- 
ing from the noontide heats, thou mayest begone." 

One of the guardsmen passed with him from be- 
neath the mulberry shade and a little way along 
the road. A beardless youth, whose eyes had 
glistened with feeling a while since as he heard 


the altogether new story of the gospel. " I fain 
would hear it again, friend, but I may not linger ; 
it gave me a pleasure such as never did tale before 
or legend of saint. Friend, I would not have 
pierced the blessed Christ with my halberd, had I 
been ther.e. Friend, thinkest thou it is all true?" 

"Written by the finger of God himself!" was 
the reply. " And because of that most holy death 
of the innocent for the guilty, are we free from all 
sin and from the eternal pain. Believe this : take 
it into thy soul, and love Him who so loved us as 
to die for us." 

" I will go to the church this very night, and 
look at him hanging on that cross," said the young 
soldier. " Farewell, friend." 

" You need not wait till then to think of him," 
said Francesco, as they parted. 



ANY pens have endeavoured to depict the 
desolation of the Carapagna of Rome, upon 
which Francesco entered from the latest 
spurs of the Apennines. A great silence and 
dreariness hangs over the vast rich plain ; yet the 
heaven above is bright and clear, the soil fat and 
fertile. In ancient times the Republic and the 
Empire drew from it vast wealth by agriculture ; 
but centuries of disuse and papal misgovernment 
have reduced the population to a few scattered 
groups of peasants in miserable huts, and the cul- 
tivation to a few patches of arable land. It is the 
same under Pius the Ninth as under Paul the 
Fourth, for the papacy is unchangeable. 

Little shrines and great stone crosses dotted the 
roadside at intervals, as usual. From a long way 
off our pilgrim would discern one of these, and 
make its attainment a sort of object in his dreary 
flat walk. Sometimes in a knot of trees one trunk 
would have a hollow, dressed up and lined gayly 



when the now faded trappings were new, and en- 
shrining a tiny image of stone or metal or painted 
wood. Before this devout Catholics were wont to 
pause for a bare-headed prayer. It was precisely 
the want of this bit of devotion which caused 
Francesco to wonder who those two travellers at 
some distance before him could be, for they had 
passed three saintly shrines and a large cross with- 
out stopping, or in anywise displaying reverence 
a very unusual, in fact an altogether improbable, 
omission on the part of orthodox Romanists. 
Could they be, even as Francesco himself, refrain- 
ing from idolatry conscientiously ? 

He would draw near and observe them more 
narrowly. Their pace was so rapid that his own 
had to be much accelerated to gain upon them. 
He thought he could notice a certain foreignness 
of attire and general aspect after he had attained 
a closer inspection. Presently they paused in the 
shade of a strip of copse, for the noontide heats 
were strong ; they sat upon the grass and seemed 
to eat somewhat from a wallet borne by one. Fran- 
cesco shortly reached the spot, and seeing them 
both young men, with the frankness of his own 
youth addressed them : 

" Buon giorno, good friends : I have been de- 


sirous to come up with you, for I perceive that you 
did not bow before the images or crosses on the 
wayside " He paused, fort he travellers exchanged 
a glance, and the idea instantly struck him that he 
must not commit himself with these total strang- 
ers ; one of whom, at least, was thinking the same. 

" Nay," responded the elder of the twain, t( but 
we had once noticed that you yourself refrained in 
like manner." 

" He seems an honest man," quoth the other 
traveller, whose semi-military bearing had struck 
Francesco, and whose glittering eyes had been 
reading the new-comer's face and mien. "He 
seems an honest man, Stefano ; why not avow " 

" Thine avowals, my brother Ludovico, will one 
day ruin thee," said the other in a suppressed tone, 
and putting a hand on his arm. " Spies are abroad, 
and men cannot be too cautious." 

" I have come from Ferrara," said Francesco, 
l< and have bowed knee to no shrine along that 
road. If your motive be the same as mine, we are 
brothers in the true faith of Christ." 

" Well and freely spoken !" exclaimed the trav- 
eller Ludovico, springing up and clasping his hand 
warmly. " Thou art a Lutheran, and so are we : 
we hold the truth of God written in his Holy 



Scriptures as above all priests and popes our sole 
rule, our sole knowledge of salvation." 

Francesco returned the pressure : " Even so, 
my friend ; I am even as ye are. God has granted 
me knowledge of his free grace from childhood 
until now. I hail you heartily as brethren.' 7 

The cloud of doubt did not remove from the 
more worldly-wise Stefano for some little time, 
while Ludovico with characteristic ardour took 
their new acquaintance cordially as he declared 
himself. But when Francesco exhibited the cre- 
dentials of the Duchess Ren6e in answer to the 
unexpressed suspicion, even Stefano was satisfied. 

That noontide rest was lengthened so much by 
the pleasant converse of those beneath the trees 
that shadows were growing long on the plain when 
they bestirred themselves again. The bond unit- 
ing Christians in that age was of a strength and 
thrilling power which we hardly know. Danger 
hemmed them in, as by a narrowing circle of ever- 
advancing angry tides ; and the souls within that 
circle were driven very closely together, and very 
near to the great common centre their divine 

" My brother Stefano Negririo and myself are 
pastors of a Reformed church," Ludovico said. 


" We are on a mission to certain brethren in the 
South of Italy." 

" Perchance to Calabria !" exclaimed the young 
physician, eagerly. 

" Even so. We have been deputed by the 
Italian church at Geneva to visit the colonies of 
the Vaudois, and assist in building up that por- 
tion of Christ's Church, which has in some respects 
wandered from the simplicity of the truth." 

" But, my brother," interposed the gentler Ste- 
fano, "they have been sorely tempted and tried." 

" No temptation," averred the sturdy half-soldier 
Ludovico Paschali, " is sufficient warrant for con- 
cealment of the faith and a sinful compliance with 
the superstitious practices of Rome. They have 
been guilty of a very general lapse, in taking the 
eucharist at mass and permitting the baptism of 
their children by Romish priests, while yet they 
secretly hold that the mass is a horrid impiety, 
and reject purgatory and saint- worship. But what 
saith the worthy Doctor Ecolampade in his Remon- 
strance?" and Paschali drew from his bosom a 
roll of parchment, whence he selected a page : " ' It 
becomes men who know they have been redeemed 
by the blood of Christ to be more courageous. In 
saying Amen to the mass, do you not deny Christ ? 


For if these masses make satisfaction for the sins 
of the living and the dead, what is the consequence, 
but that Christ has not made it sufficiently and 
that he died for us in vain ?' Thou seest then, my 
brother, what dishonour these Calabrian churches 
have cast upon their Lord : they need a reforma- 
tion, though Reformed." 

"I grieve to hear all this," said Francesco; 
" for my purpose was to settle among these Vaudois 
colonies, to which I have certain ties by blood, and 
with whom I had heard that freedom of conscience 
was established in some sort. Perchance portions 
of the colonies may be freer from the taint of Ro- 
manized worship than others ?" 

" They settled on the soil," said Negrino, raising 
his thoughtful face, "under convention with the 
signors who owned it, and who guaranteed to them 
self-government by their own magistrates and pas- 
tors. This convention was ratified by Ferdinand 
of Aragon, King of Naples, so late as the year 
1500 : methinks it ought to be security enough for 
the peaceable exercise of religion, but, alas ! the 
theory is better than practice. The clergy have 
long complained that these Calabrians are not like 
other people, in that none of them become priests 
or nuns, and they concern themselves little about 


chantings, wax tapers, or images that they had 
unknown foreign schoolmasters, to whom they paid 
a deeper respect than even to the secular clergy. 
Now these suspicions being afloat, the Calabrians 
have been compelled to be very cautious, lest the 
Inquisition should be down upon them ; for it 
overrides all laws and national institutions, as re- 
modelled by the Cardinal Caraifa. Hence the state 
of things which our brother Paschali describes. A 
people within a people, they have been seeking to 
blot over the line of demarcation as much as might 
be, for self-preservation's sake." 

" But now, when the Christian world is arising 
against Antichrist as one man," exclaimed the 
vehement Paschali, "shall they sleep the igno- 
minious sleep of carnal security longer ? shall they 
not add their voice to the universal protest ? When 
this peninsula, the very seat of the beast, is stirred 
from its centre to its verge with the great Refor- 
mation movement, shall the Calabrian colonies, 
who have possessed the light of truth so long, be 
not rather ashamed of the cowardice which has 
kept it so much concealed ? 

" Ah, my brother," said Negrino, looking at the 
flashing eyes and kindling face with a certain affec- 
tionate sorrow, " methinks thou art a candidate for 


the noble army of martyrs. Methinks in laying 
by helmet and rapier thou didst not put aside the 
martial spirit." 

" Nay, my Stefano," said the other more calmly ; 
" but surely a man may have ardour in Christ's 
army, and for the Captain of his salvation as ever 
for earthly general. My warlike instincts may 
serve me in good stead against spiritual foes ; and 
if I ' please Him who hath chosen me to be a sol- 
dier/ I care little for aught else." 

" But the day is wearing," observed Stefano : 
{< the sun is wheeling westward. If we would reach 
Rome to-night, we had better resume our way." 

The fragments of the meal were stowed away in 
the wallet carried by Paschali, and the three trav- 
ellers passed from the copse to the open road again. 
Before them, afar, rose towers and spires of the 
Eternal City, crested with the wondrous though 
yet unfinished dome of St. Peter's. 

"Ay, the great Babylon," muttered Paschali, 
striding onward, "drunken with the blood of the 
saints and of the martyrs of Jesus. Hast thou 
heard of the latest martyrdom, brother?" turning 
round to Francesco. "Godfredo "Varaglia, the 
Capuchin preacher, has sealed his testimony with 
his blood, not a month since, at Turin." 


"What! he who once preached so vehemently 
against the Waldenses?" 

" Even so. While arguing with our pastors, God 
gave him power to receive the truth. Fra Bernar- 
din Ochino, general of his order, was of like belief, 
and they worked together in publishing Christ's gos- 
pel, until Rome became so roused that Ochino had 
to fly. Varaglia was arrested, and on making some 
abjuration of heresy in general terms, was kept in 
Rome for five years. Afterward he went to France 
with the papal legate, and thence retired to Geneva, 
where his heart had long been with Calvin and 
Beza. Again he went among our brethren of the 
valleys, but it was now to preach the faith he had 
once laboured to destroy, and the long arms of the 
Inquisition, stretching over the frontier, seized him. 
When questioned before the tribunal, he declared 
that the number of preachers ready to enter Italy 
and publish the gospel was so great that wood to 
burn them could not be found." 

Again Paschal i took the lead, as if his ardent 
spirit was hasting onward to his scene of labour 
more rapidly than his body could travel. With 
head erect and military marching gait, the ex- 
soldier passed forward: Negrino, older and less 
fiery, kept with Francesco a few paces in the rear. 


"The pastor hath been in the army," observed 
the latter, indicating Paschal i by that pointing of 
the thumb which is so characteristically Italian. 

"He was trained for it," was the reply, "but 
quitted it for Christ's service while very young; 
studied at Lausanne for some time; and when the 
Calabrese Vaudois applied for an Italian preacher, 
as well as the occasional ' barbe' from the valleys, 
he was found so eminently suited by zeal and by 
acquirements that he was at once nominated by 
our Genevese pastors to accompany me. Poor 
fellow! he has much to sadden him just now: he 
was betrothed two days before his appointment to 
a certain maiden, Camilla Guarina, whom he truly 
loves; yet at the call of duty they severed, and 
she, more valiant than ever was the lady of knight 
going into mortal combat and buckling on the 
armour in which he may receive the death-wound, 
committed him to her God for this perilous mis- 
sion, not knowing if she shall ever again behold 
him in the flesh." 

A thrill of sympathy struck through the listen- 
er's heart as he heard of this quiet heroism not 
very infrequent in an age when principle constantly 
demanded the highest sacrifices, but still appealing 
to the deepest feelings of human nature. 


"A nobler spirit never breathed," quoth ~Ne- 
grino, in the same undertone. " He eounteth not 
his life dear unto him, so he may finish his course 
with joy, and gain the great Master's ( Well done, 
good and faithful servant !' ' ; 

The interest attached to Paschali was indefinitely 
increased, in Francesco's eyes, by this item of 
knowledge about his former life. He bent instinct- 
ively before the noble, self-sacrificing soul which 
for Christ's sake separated itself from all it held 
dearest on earth, and went forth to carry the 
banner of truth into a region where the very air 
of common life breathed peril. 

And the name of Camilla Guarina the be- 
trothed maiden whose self-sacrifice was equal, for 
she remained at home to suffer in monotony and 
silence, while Paschali passed into exciting scenes 
of action and endurance should not be forgotten 
among those of the women who laid their hearts 
on the shrine of the Italian Reformation. She 
never saw her lover on earth again. 


ROME IN 1558. 

Of CROSS the blackened bosom of the Campagna. 

II marched our travellers, with that aerial dome 
^j ^ for goal. Michael Angelo was yet its unpaid 
architect, toiling day after day at colonnade and 
arch and pier, elaborating the minutest details with 
the grand exactitude of genius as the vast pile 
slowly grew, which took more than a century to 
mature into full magnificence. But few sight-seers 
visited Rome at this era. The world's business 
was too stern to admit of pleasure-tours ; and the 
concourse of outer " barbarians" who now annually 
admire the Eternal City was utterly unknown. 
For something apart from archaeology or aesthetics 
did the pilgrim from North or West cross sea arid 
mountain to the centre of the Christian world, the 
capital of the faith, the seat of the earthly vice- 
gerent of the Supreme. 

" Accursed Babylon !" muttered Paschali in the 
very Porta del Popolo, unawed by the magnificence 
surrounding. And though his tongue was silent, 


ROME IN 1558. 363 

his companions could read the same denunciation 
in his uncompromising face as they passed along 
crowded streets, and under the walls of the im- 
mense fortress of St. Angelo, raising its gray bat- 
tlements far above their heads. Two short years 
afterward, what a scene for him in the court adjoin- 
ing ! What a presentation before the hierarchy of 
pope and purple cardinals, and before the more 
glorious, though invisible, hierarchy of heaven ! 
what a spectacle for angels and for men ! 

But the future is veiled from us in mercy. 
Paschal i was not to be unnerved for present duty 
by any prevision of his mortal fate. 

A vast crowd is gathered before one of the half- 
thousand churches ; it was that higher order of 
ecclesiastical building intituled a basilica, of dig- 
nity sufficient for pontifical ceremonies. And the 
very crowd is characteristic of Rome. Nowhere 
else such a medley of ecclesiastic costumes, such 
variety of cowls and gowns and cords and caps, 
appertaining to all orders of regulars. Long 
flowing robes of some, coarse brown cloaks of 
others, white tunics of a third order; all most 
blessed, and conferring on their wearers the privi- 
lege of independent idleness. 

"Ditemi che c'e? Tell me, what's all this 


about ?" asked Francesco of his nearest neighbour, 
whose horned cowl and patched rochet bespoke 
him a Capuchin. The friar turned on his ques- 
tioner a pair of lazy brown eyes, as he replied : 

" Oh, it's only our Holy Father borne in his chair 
of state. As you're evidently a new-comer, I don't 
mind making room for you, if you care to see the 
show ;" and he moved to let Francesco on a step 
which he occupied as vantage-ground. While 
thanking him, the obliged person could not but 
feel the language rather more irreverent than he 
would have looked for in a monkish habit, but he 
soon found that in Rome this was nothing new. 

The crowd were talking abundantly among 
themselves, and now and then sending up a jet of 
applause into the air around the old church towers. 
The murmur of the garrulous Romans, separated 
into its constituent elements of gossip, was not al- 
ways complimentary to their spiritual father and 
his court. For instance : 

"I say, Jacopo, did you see how angrily the 
pope glanced at his nephew Caraffa, when he drew 
near to him at the doorway? The old man is 
beginning to see through that hypocrite, and 'tis 

" Nay, but they say that lately, when the cardi- 

ROME IN 1558. 365 

nal was ill, the Holy Father going to visit him 
suddenly, found him in very bad company. His 
Eminence has longed loved gamblers and drinkers 
more than learned doctors and priests; how he 
managed to hide it from the sharp eyes of Paul is 
the question." 

" Oh, that's his camp education," put in a little 
shorn Benedictine, clothed in black woollen gown. 
" Why, the Holy Father himself said of the car- 
dinal, that his arm was dyed in gore to the elbow." 

Paschali uttered a sort of groan. " And are 
these thy princes, O Rome ?" was his mental 

The Capuchin stared as intently as his sleepy 
brown eyes could : " Art thou ill, friend ?" 

" Not in the least," responded Paschali, curtly. 
" But a man may groan over sin, especially when 
throned in high places, my friend." 

" Oh, if that be thy fancy," observed the monk, 
pushing back his funnel-shaped cowl, " thou 
needest not be silent night or day in Rome ; we're 
used to it here ; and yet the Holy Father himself 
is all a pope should be. But human nature is 
human nature, we all know ;" and he shrugged his 
shoulders cozily under the patched cloak. "I 
fancy thou art a stranger, or this would not be so 


new to thee, and thy groanings would be kept for 

" But the pope he is a conscientious man : how 
can he tolerate this blood-stained Caraffa ?" 

" Hist ! speak gently, friend. Though every- 
body knows it, 'tis a matter for whispering. Now, 
in the first place, Caraffa is his nephew, and you 
wouldn't have the Holy Father without natural 
affection? Then the cardinal had cleverness 
enough to feign a deep remorse for his past excesses, 
and was more than once surprised accidentally 
of course by his Holiness prostrate before the 
crucifix, and confessing apparently sins. Being the 
sincerest man alive himself, our Holy Father could 
not suspect such playing of the hypocrite, and gave 
the opportune penitent the red hat he sought, 
took him deeply into his councils, and often 
praised him as the ablest statesman in the papacy 
a character which Caraffa vindicated by plunging 
headlong into wars with the Colonnas, whom he 
plundered, and with Spain and Naples, who plun- 
dered him back again." 

" And what of the government of the Church 
all this time of wielding the secular sword?' 7 asked 

" The Church ! oh, she is taken good care of: 

ROME IN 1558. 367 

don't you know the promise to Saint Peter, that 
'the gates of hell shall not prevail against ' her? 
And his Holiness is a pope most zealous for the 
faith ; never was the Holy Office so busy, never 
was heresy more determinately rooted out with an 
unsparing hand, from the highest places as well as 
from the lowest. The cardinal's purple is no pro- 
tection : Contarini could not now palter with 
heretics as he used ; Morone and Foscarari have 
seen the inside of the new Lutheran prison beyond 
Tiber : even the cardinal of England has fallen 
under suspicion ; nay, the tribunal of the Inquisi- 
tion itself has required expurgation, and laymen of 
undoubted orthodoxy have been introduced as 
judges instead of suspected clerics. Ah, my 
friend, there will not be a heretic breathing on this 
side the Alps in five years, if his Holiness works 
as he is now doing. I only wish he could plant 
the same all-powerful machinery on the other 

Had the heavy brown eyes been a trifle sharper, 
they might have read in the stranger's face a very 
unmistakable dissent from his enthusiasm in favour 
of the Holy Office; but the good monk never 
doubted he was speaking to a staunch Catholic 
like himself one who could see discrepancies of 


practice in his spiritual superiors, but never. deem 
them the less worthy of all reverence, or the less 
infallible in their ecclesiastical capacity. 

"You see," continued the talkative Capuchin, 
" I can't bear those Lutherans. They would take 
the supremacy from our Rome no more universal 
bishop, forsooth ! What would become of us all 
here, I should like to know? We might shut 
up half our churches and convents. That's 
the great thing with those 'novatori;' and I just 
wouldn't leave one of them breath to be crowing 
his blasphemies in our ears and picking the 
Church's pockets of her dues." 

Paschali was with difficulty silent ; only the 
strongest sense of the duty of self-preservation 
restrained his speech. Negrino, who feared that 
his ardour would betray him into imprudent utter- 
ance, hastened to interpose : 

" And these Lutherans of whom you speak, my 
friend have they been numerous in Rome?" 

"I should rather say not," replied the other, 
with a low laugh; "though there are accessions 
most days, brought in from all parts to that palace 
of theirs beyond the Tiber, whereof I spake anon, 
and which our present Holy Father has erected 
for their accommodation." 

ROME IN 1558. 369 

" Are we likely to see the pope to-day ?" in- 
quired Negrino, when the monk's chuckle ceased. 

" Oh yes ; he will come out to give us all his 
blessing, don't you understand?" And herewith 
the Capuchin picked from the pouch of a mendi- 
cant Franciscan beside him, who was returning 
home from his morning's work of begging victuals, 
a portion of bread and meat and began to eat. 
The action struck the rude sense of humour in the 
lookers-on, and hearty laughter followed the dis- 
comforted look of the Franciscian, as he found 
how involuntarily he had ministered to his 
brother's need. 

" Never mind, good frate, thy pouch is tolera- 
bly swollen yet." "Fasting a meal will do his 
fat cheeks no harm !" and similar remarks greeted 
him on every side, till he retreated to rid himself 
of the bulging provender in the safe repository of 
his convent. 

At intervals these outsiders heard peals of 
solemn chantings from within, and wafts of incense 
through the wide, folding doors visited another 
sense. At last came forth the centre of all eyes, 
Paul the Fourth. Borne in a great, gilded chair, 
beneath a canopy of white satin heavily fringed 
with bullion, the old man's bony hand perpetually 



raised in the benedictory attitude, his lips moving 
with benedictory words, but no trace of smile or 
of blessing on the thin anxious face or in the rest- 
less, fiery eyes. Whatever this Holy Father could 
do in the way of making others happy or blessed, 
he had certainly kept but little of such enjoyments 
for himself, to judge by appearances. 

No, not all the ascetic observances of the 
Theatine Cardinal (as he was called, because of 
founding that order), not all the zealous preachings 
of John Peter Caraifa, not all the bitter bigotry of 
the Grand Inquisitor, had sufficed to make of 
Pope Paul the Fourth aught but a miserable old 
man. Disappointed in his schemes of ambition, 
thwarted in the nearest relations of life by his 
designing nephews, defeated in every war, he was 
victorious on one field alone the pope against the 
heretics. Here he had undisputed conquest : here 
might the malevolence of his spirit legitimately 
expatiate, and his furious temper find victims for 
vengeance. No one did more to crush the Re- 
formation in Italy than this man, who had in his 
early days sat in the Oratory of Divine Love with 
Sadolet, Pole, Contarini, and other men who loved 
the gospel in its purity. Widely had their paths 
diverged ; never to meet, we fear, for all eternity. 



N old man stands in a sculptor's studio, strik- 
ing flakes of marble from a block before him 
with a most decisive chisel. Three figures 
of a group are already sketched, and he is at work 
on the fourth. A dead Christ, supported by the 
sorrowing mother, forms the chief of these. The 
former is partially elaborated, and a weight of 
deathliness has been infused from the artist's vivid 
conceptions into those marble limbs, which is to 
this day, in the duplicate group, the wonder of all 
beholders, where the statues remain behind the 
great altar of the cathedral of Florence. The 
other figures are much less finished. The sculptor 
is now outlining a standing Nicodemus. His chisel- 
strokes are so vehement though the arm wielding 
that mallet is now eighty-three years old that 
the spectator trembles for the roughness of each 
blow, lest the design be injured by the great frag- 
ments which fall away ; but the impetuous sculp- 
tor sees through the shapeless marble his Idea, and 



is merely knocking away the dead matter that 
imprisons it. 

Francesco paused on the threshold of Michel 
Angelo's studio, and beheld the scene. So en- 
grossed was the renowned workman that he did 
not hear the entrance ; with knitted brows and con- 
centrated expression of face he continued to strike 
and to ruminate, until his servant Antonio draw- 
ing near announced a messenger from the Duchess 
of Ferrara, 

Then the full piercing glance of those blue- gray, 
deep- set eyes suddenly fell on the visitor. A most 
kingly face and form, bearing some natural com- 
mand in both, born of inextinguishable self- 
reliance and self-knowledge. Francesco approached 
the greatest artist of the age with the reverence 
due to his genius, and presented him with a letter 
from her Highness of Ferrara. While it was 
being read he had leisure to look about him in 
this sanctuary of art. 

A model of the cupola of St. Peter's stood on a 
table ; plans of the building lay about : unfinished 
statues abounded. For such was the impetuous 
eagerness of the great sculptor that he frequently 
grew impatient with the slow development of this 
Ideal from the dull marble, and some later-born 


thought would usurp possession of his brain, 
which he must forthwith strive to evolve into actual 
shape and solidity. Hence the number of un- 
finished works which remain to attest the unex- 
ampled fecundity of Michel Angelo's imagination. 

" Eh, signer, you admire that ?" said the garru- 
lous and familiar Antonio, in an undertone, while 
he glanced toward his master and signalled the 
stranger with his thumb to draw nearer. " 'Tis a 
rare design, but you should see the original, that 
he gave me ! The Signor Tiberio Caliagni you 
know him, a Florentine sculptor? He has it now, 
giving me two hundred gold crowns for my right. 
Of course, signor, the scudi were of more use to a 
poor man than the statue, yet for all I did not 
quite like to sell it. My master intended it for his 
own tomb first, but he grew tired of it, and the 
marble had a blemish which provoked him 
mightily every day. At last, striving to finish the 
whole affair in a hurry, he unfortunately struck a 
bit off the Madonna's elbow; and I think he 
would have smashed up the whole group in his 
vexation, if I had not begged him to give it me 
just as it was. Then Signor Tiberio, who had 
been longing to possess some work of art from my 
master's hand, persuaded me to let him have it for 


the two hundred crowns; and my master has 
promised him the use of his models for its repair. 
This is the same subject, but smaller in size : my 
master just amuses himself with sculpturing it, as 
you saw him now ; but he cannot work long at a 
time age comes on him apace." And the voice 
of the faithful servant dropped still lower as he 
looked toward the spare, snow-crowned figure of 
the master concerning whom he was so proud. 

" And this," ventured Francesco, seeing the still 
abstracted gaze of Michel Angel o upon his letter. 

" This, signer, is a model of the restoration of 
the famous torso of the Belvidere Hercules 
reposing from his labours, do you see ? My mas- 
ter amuses himself with such trifles, signer; he 
has not the heart nor the muscle for large labours 
now, more especially since Urbino died. Urbino 
was my predecessor, signor ; my master loved him 
greatly, and grieved much for him after twenty- 
six years' living together. He has an incomparable 
heart, has my master !" 

Michel Angelo seemed suddenly to rouse him- 
self from a reverie. He walked quickly across the 
room to another chamber beyond, and returned in 
a few minutes with a large cartoon in his hand, 
which presented the outlines of a very beautiful 


face and a figure half length : the features of rich 
Roman type and exceeding purity of line; calm, 
full eyes, classic nostril, soft, crimson lips ; and 
light golden hair in great folds of plaiting and 
waves around the head, beneath a heavy antique 
ornament like a half helmet. 

" Ah !" exclaimed Michel Angelo, setting his 
drawing in a good light against the wall, "hast 
thou ever seen face like that, young man ?" 

Never, might Francesco safely affirm, as he gazed 
at that peerless beauty. 

" Her Highness the duchess is good enough to 
ask me for a picture of the illustrious Marchesa 
di Pescara, she who is best known, perhaps, by her 
name of the ' divine Vittoria Colonna.' I have 
nothing but this sketch ; yet if a man so old as I 
am may talk of time or opportunity, I shall en- 
deavour to complete from it a portrait worthy of 
the subject and the person for whom it is destined. 
Thou art not going back to Ferrara immediately?" 

No ; the young physician had business in Naples. 

" My good Antonio, thou mayest go." So the 
servant, who had busied himself in grinding 
colours at a little distance from the conversation, 
left the studio. " Thou art no mere courier, signer 
of that thine air and gait would inform me ; but 


this letter tells somewhat more. We are in Rome, 
so cannot speak plainly ; yet I will say so far as 
that thou seest a like believer in Michel Angelo 
Buonarroti ; and in what thou needst, command my 

Francesco clasped the aged hand, which had ex- 
ecuted world's wonders of art, yet was dearer to 
him as the hand of one who trusted in the same 
Saviour than as a hand which princes had pressed in 
deference : he kissed it fervently an Italian action 
of reverential respect from man to man. " Most 
noble signer, I thank thee." 

" Yes," said the great artist, turning again toward 
the portrait of his illustrious friend ; " she it was 
who led me to the truth and taught me the path 
to heaven. I presented to her ' the blank page of 
a troubled mind/ and on it she wrote for me the 
highest knowledge the knowledge that brings 
eternal life. She was my spiritual guide she 
held up before me the one solution for all my doubts 
and fears, in the faith of the most blessed Christ. 
Ought I not to be grateful to her memory ? She 
has helped me to be new-born to be remodelled 
for eternity."* 

A minute's gazing at the magnificent features. 
* See the Sonnets of Michel Angelo. 


grandly calm : " Beautiful as her soul," observed 
Michel Angelo; "never was fairer spirit shrined 
in fairer form." 

" One would scarce think to find a noble lady of 
her dignity, and among her temptations, heeding 
the truths of the gospel," said Francesco. " ' Not 
many mighty, not many noble, are called. 7 ;J 

" Fra Bernardino Ochino was the first who 
showed her the truth : when her heart was desolate 
after Pescara's death, and no comfort but the di- 
vine could reach her, his words seemed a halm 
from heaven ; and he set her to search the holy 
Scriptures of God, to prove whether his sayings 
were true and that the faith of Christ alone could 
justify. Verily it was good news! As for me, 
my soul had for sixty-three years been tossed on 
seas of doubt before I received that glorious know- 
ledge and sailed into the haven of everlasting 
peace. Wellnigh had I doubted that a religion 
so full of the foulest corruption as this in Rome, 
could be from God in anywise; wellnigh had I 
looked up with the fool, and said, ' There is no 
God/ or such iniquities could not be done under 
the sun ! For I remember Borgia pope, young 
man ; and human crime has never further gone 1" 

" Even the papacy has been purified to a certain 


degree/ 7 said the visitor. " Paul the Fourth is a 
vast improvement on Alexander and Leo." 

" Yes, yes," assented the artist ; " but never can 
the Church agree to the great doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith. Don't you see that it would cut 
away every temporal power at a blow ? No more 
purgatory with a golden key ; no more sacrifices 
for the dead ; no more bequests of rich lands to 
buy salvation after a life of crime ; no more papal 
absolutions nor indulgences ; in fact, very little 
need of a priesthood. Ah, no, my friend ! this 
new Council at Trent will condemn justifying faith 
as the blackest heresy. It cannot do otherwise." 

Just then a man in the prime of life, and richly 
dressed in courtier's garb, entered the studio and 
saluted Michel Angelo with the familiarity of an 
assured friend. 

" Ah, my Giorgio ! is it thou ? Hast done any- 
thing toward rectifying the mistake which that 
varlet of a mason committed in the King of 
France's chapel at St. Peter's? How he could 
make so grave an error in the measurements I 
know not. My model should have been sufficient 
guide. See here ;" and he proceeded to explain 
and comment on the fault that had occurred as 
lucidly and energetically as if but fifty years, in- 


stead of eighty, were weighing on his brain. " He 
believes, I dare warrant, that Michel Angelo is 
really in second childhood, as certain detractors 
have asserted, and thinks he may alter my plans 
with impunity. I shall show him that it is not so. 
See, young man !" turning to Francesco : " they 
say I am in my dotage look here !" 

He brought him to the half-finished model of 
the cupola which had attracted Francesco's atten- 
tion previously. " Behold ! much of it was exe- 
cuted by this hand. It should be sufficient to 
prove my continued faculties, think you ?" 

Francesco felt it almost affecting to be thus ap- 
pealed to by this mighty intellect against detracting 
suspicions of decay. He bent to inspect the model 
closely, as well as to hide a moisture that gathered 
about his eyes. 

" Noble Buonarroti, it seemeth to me perfect," 
he said, unfeignedly. " But I am no artist nor 

" My Vasari," said Michel Angelo, addressing 
the new-comer, " hast thou that last sonnet I sent 
thee but a short time agone? He would have 
more skill to judge of words than of architecture, 

And Yasari read for the young man the beautiful 


lines which have descended to our day, wherein the 
great sculptor takes adieu of his art and of imagi- 
nation, its " idol and monarch ;" wherein he speaks 
of the two deaths approaching " one certain, the 
other threatening ? What can art or imagination 
do to avert such doom ?" 

" My one sole refuge is that love divine 
Which from the cross stretched forth its arms to save." * 

" Methinks that Michel Angelo hath even ex- 
celled himself in this sonnet," observed Vasari, 
complaisantly. i( There is the ring of the true 
Petrarch metal therein." 

u And of a greater than Petrarch !" broke in 
Francesco. " A celestial hope and faith is uttered 
of which Petrarch never dreamed in his loftiest 

" Young men, young men, ye are partial," said 
the author. " Yet believe me, that not my works, 
which the world is pleased to call mighty efforts 
of genius, nor my fame, which is great, nor my 
friends, which are many and dear are my cherished 
thought now or my source of satisfaction. Nay, 
rather do I turn to Him who died upon that cross ; 
and straightway my soul, ' lite a frail bark 'scaped 
* Sonnet Ivi., written in his eighty -third year. 


from fierce storms of wrath, glides into a placid 
sea of peace.' * Before I knew the fulness of 
Christ's pardon, I scarce thought that even divine 
love could overlook my countless sins; but now 
the priceless value of his blood has taught me that 
' measureless as his pains for us is his mercy for 
us, most blessed Christ P " f 

The reader of Michel Angelo's sonnets at the 
present day is amazed to find that this great man, 
who dwelt in the antechamber of popes and de- 
vised gorgeous accessories for Roman worship, and 
devoted his highest science to the erection of the 
noblest Roman cathedral, yet held doctrines, as 
Protestant as Luther or Zwingli, and was at heart 
an humble, earnest believer in Jesus, and not in 
the sacred mummeries which daily surrounded 
him. Thus did the Lord God choose his own 
people from the most unlikely positions, and 
seal them his own till the day of his ap- 

Yasari, who is chiefly renowned in the nineteenth 
century as the Boswell to this greater than John- 
son, presently brought forward a plan of some 
apartments in the ducal palace at Florence, on 
which he was then engaged as architect and fresco- 
* Sonnet xlix. f Sonnet 1. 


painter. Francesco shortly took his leave. He 
had thus executed the Duchess ReneVs last com- 
mission in Rome, and was at liberty to proceed on 
his journey southward. 



*ONG lines of tapers blinking feebly to the 
noonday sun, and dropping wax about as they 
leaned hither and thither in uncertain hands ; 
crucifixes seeming top-heavy and borne at various 
angles ;. a path beautifully flower-strewn, embroid- 
ered with patterns of coloured blossoms, crushed 
at every step of the crowd ; an image lifted above 
all the perpetual Madonna, smiling feebly with 
scarlet lips and pink cheeks and staring eyes ; copes 
and cowls in abundance on the central line of the 
procession : all winding through a long street of 
lava-built houses in the little town of Ariccia. 
Had the pagans of Horace's time, who worshipped 
Diana on the same spot, glanced across the cen- 
turies and seen this procession to honour the Vir- 
gin Mary, they could scarce believe but it was their 
own goddess-adoration still walking the earth, a 
little modernized, but essentially the same. 

" My little heart," quoth Paschali to a child by 
the wayside, as the procession drew nigh along the 



flower-strewn road, " what great day is this that 
the images are shown forth ?" 

The child looked up at the tall, bearded figure 
without reply : her skirt was full of the roseate- 
purplish cyclamen, which she strewed into certain 
chalked marks on the path. Others were similarly 
engaged with baskets of blossoms; arid so the 
many-coloured mosaic of flowers grew before the 
feet of the procession, and behind them was a 
crushed, shapeless mass. 

" Knowest thou not the day of the Invention of 
the Holy Cross?" said an old monk, who stood 
aside, and seemed to superintend the carpeting of 
the road. "Methinks, friend, thou hast paid but 
small attention to the festivals of our Holy Church, 
or thou needest not have asked. Come here, mia 
figlia, and lay a bordering of that golden broom- 
blossom along the edge of this cyclamen. These 
two little damsels, my son," he added, addressing 
Paschali again, " are most highly honoured of our 
Lady; for they have so well behaved themselves, 
by her favour, as to be chosen to represent the 
blessed Santa Anna and the Madonna on the last 
Jesla in Arieeia." 

Then Paschali noticed that instead of a garland 
round her hair, the little girl with the cyclamen 


wore a gilded coronet, and that the small head was 
held erect, with somewhat of an elated air. Could 
the child forget that lately she had been seated on 
a throne before the high altar, as representative of 
the queen of heaven, and that a whole congregation 
had bowed before her and done her reverence? It 
was a lesson of self-importance and of idolatry not 
easily obliterated. 

" Come away down this by-street," said Negrino, 
who did not desire to attract suspicion by an osten- 
tatious refusal of obeisance as the procession passed. 
" Perchance there is some outlet for getting on the 
Naples road more quickly than if we waited till 
this path be clear." 

So just as the foremost taper-carriers approached, 
our three travellers dived down a narrow passage 
between the lava-built houses, skirting the main 
streets at the back. Emerging lower down on the 
hill which the town crests, before them stretched 
along the horizon the wide blue expanse of the 
Mediterranean; and the land was all diversified 
with hill and vale and wood and cultivated fields 

"Again thou didst tremble for my headstrong 
zeal, amico mio," said Paschali to his brother 
pastor, Negrino. "Yet I am well assured that at 



a pinch thou wouldst be as steadfast in not bowing 
the knee to the idol as I would be/' 

The other smiled, " I hope so/ 7 he said. " But 
my body belongs to my Master as well as my soul : 
and I am desirous to work for him so long as I 
can, knowing that he does not wish me rashly to 
destroy any of his good gifts. It seemeth to me 
that we can glorify the most blessed Christ and do 
injury to the kingdom of Satan at this present 
time more by our life than by our death, my 

"Hear him, arguing with me as with a being 
devoid of the first principle of self-preservation," 
quoth the Piedmontese, turning toward Francesco. 
"Ah, my friend, thou knowest I have too many 
reasons to wish for both long life and quiet life," 
he added, with a touch of mournfulness in his 
voice, as his thoughts went back to the lonely 
maiden in Geneva a reflex of some of her con- 
tinual thoughts of him. 

"But, as I was saying before we met the proces- 
sion/' quoth Negrino, taking up the thread of 
former discourse, "the characteristic of this present 
Reformation is its union of science and piety. 
The enlightened and educated of the earth are its 
great promoters, and it has repaid their attachment 


by a Christianizing influence on the learning of 
the age. I doubt not but Italy would drift back 
into paganism, except for the renovation of relig- 
ion consequent on the study of the Sacred Scrip- 

"It is strange how the modern tongues have 
been brought into use by the same movement," re- 
marked Francesco. "The appeal of the Reformers 
to the people necessitated the speaking in the popu- 
lar languages, and not in Latin or Greek, which is 
understood only by learned men. Luther wrote in 
German Ochino can only utter or write Italian. 
It is a sign of the times." 

" Yes, a symptom that the renovation of religion 
proceeds now from no limited sect or narrow clique, 
but from the powerful people." 

" More so in Germany than in Italy, I should 
say," observed Francesco. "I see no fewer pro- 
cessions than ever, nor are the churches less 
crowded. I fear that with us the Reformation is 
rather among the upper ranks." 

"It was fashionable to be a free-thinker before 
it became a dangerous amusement," said Negrino. 
" Princesses and cardinals do not easily lay down 
their honours and go to prison ; they have not the 
sturdy grasp of our common men and women upon 


truth and faith. Yet methinks Contarini could 
have made a martyr.'' 

" All believers need that stamp upon them now, 
when a Caraffa wears the tiara," observed Paschal i, 
his face set sternly. " As for me, I expect none 
other fate nay, what do I say ? I look for none 
other crown of rejoicing." 

Some days of slow pedestrian march elapsed be- 
fore they reached Naples. "Vedi Napoli, e poi 
muori!" "See Naples and die!" is the vain- 
glorious proverb of its citizens ; and truly God 
has showered a rich dower of beauty on the 
southern capital of Italy. But in no splendid 
villa or palazzo set in gorgeous scenery, did our 
trio of travellers find repose. Negrino, who was a 
"Vaudois " barbe," or itinerant pastor, and had been 
this road before on a Calabrian mission, knew that 
the brethren who would receive them in Naples 
were poor and obscure, hiding literally in the rocks. 
He guided his companions to a certain outlet of 
the town, where were precipitous mural cliffs, per- 
haps the relic of an ancient sea-beach : little shops 
were ranged along beneath ; at one, that of a fruit- 
seller, he paused. 

The old woman was intent on arranging a fresh 


batch of blood-oranges among their green leaves 
temptingly. Negrino put his hand on the brown, 
wrinkled fingers with a friendly pressure. She 
looked up quickly, shading her eyes from the sun- 
glare : 

" What, signor ! Thou art welcome to poor old 
Clarice's house. Nay, come in, come in, my pretty 
gentlemen ; I have a chamber for ye all, an ye be 
the right sort, as I guess by your company. Gian, 
stay by the fruit-baskets till I return ;" which 
aside was addressed to a chubby grandchild, who 
looked far more ready to eat the figs and oranges 
than to take care of them. 

" Here, gentlemen, here is the chamber where 
Monsignor Yaldez hath often held his meetings, 
when poor old Clarice was a younger woman by 
twenty years ; thou knowest it of old, Messer 
Negrino, and for that it hath been put to holy 
uses no common traveller lodges therein. Enter, 
gentlemen, enter, in the name of the blessed 
'Vangelo, which we all love; rest yourselves a 
little, and I will have somewhat for your repast 

The room was excavated from the precipitous 
rock, and was reached by a flight of steps similarly 
cut out ; two or three other such apartments, but 


darker and smaller, composed the fruit- seller's 
whole house. 

"Clarice is an old disciple/'' observed Negrino. 
" She hath kept on the even course of her profes- 
sion for thirty years, as I have heard, since the 
gospel was first preached in Naples ; and her fear- 
lessness seems to prosper. She hath never had the 
persecution, one might think, yet I doubt if she 
hath sheltered herself beneath any compliances." 

" Ah, my friend, the bold policy is not always 
the worst, thou seest," said Paschali. " He giveth 
his angels charge : no servant of God can perish 
till his Master's work be ended." 

" Clarice," asked Negrino, while the old woman 
bustled about preparing their meal, " we were won- 
dering how it came to pass that you have been pre- 
served to this day in peace and safety, with the In- 
quisition abroad ?" 

" Ah, signor, that's just as it should be through 
the good hand of the great Lord taking care of 
me. Perhaps they don't think a poor old woman 
of my sort worth burning or shutting up in prison ; 
perhaps they never remember me at all. In either 
way, it's just the doing of the good Lord ; and I 
am not afraid, signor not afraid but he will take 
care of his poor servant to the end. I was in the 


hands of the sbirri once, signor, but the good Lord 
saved me ; and I was sent back the same day to 
my little shop, and didn't lose as much as an 
orange by the business. Hey, Gian, what's that?" 

For the little guardian of the baskets called his 
grandmother on appearance of a customer. Hav- 
ing received many kisses and blessings for his 
faithfulness, he was continued in office after the 
sale was effected ; and Dame Clarice returned to 
her guests. 

" Ay, this is a blessed chamber/ 7 began the gar- 
rulous Neapolitan afresh ; " many a time have I 
seen the holy Signor Valdez sit where you sit now, 
signor, and hold discourse over the blessed gospel 
book with the most reverend Fra Pietro Martire, 
the Frate Mollio, and others ; nay, we had the 
Fra Bernardin here more than once. Chime"! 
alas ! those are old times now, and the word is 
nigh extinct in Naples. 'Tis hard for a poor body 
to get along; but there's the same most blessed 
Christ in heaven, and he never changes, never 
grows old." 



LD Clarice the fruit-seller was bent on show- 
ing her best hospitality to the strangers, for 
the sake of the common faith. Stefano Ne- 
grino was a former acquaintance, having, as already 
stated, travelled this way before on a mission to the 
Calabrian Christians ; for as a Vaudois " barbe," or 
pastor, his duty called him to go whither the synod 
sent him, and thus the colonies were ministered 
unto in spiritual things by itinerant teachers, com- 
missioned from the valleys. 

He sat at the small window, whose wooden 
shutter was drawn back for light's sake, and looked 
out on the little open-air shops in the street and 
on the changeful tide of people flowing past. 
Naples was just rousing from its silent hours of 
siesta ; the lazzaroni were stretching their great, 
drowsy lengths in shades of porches and arcades, 
waking from the delicious oblivion of sleep to the 
want of macaroni : even the wide, cool churches 
had been tenanted by many a slumberer, while the 



fierce sun burned external nature with almost 
tropical glow, compelling languor and repose to all 
things animate. 

Negrino turned from the window with an audi- 
ble moan, after a few minutes' gaze. The thought 
which so often visits earnest-minded believers in 
Jesus Christ and partakers of his great salvation, 
when they behold heedless multitudes treading the 
common ways of life, crowding the thoroughfares 
of business or pleasure How is it with the souls 
of all these? how fare these on the journey for 
eternity? had entered the pastor's heart, and 
smote his spiritual sensibilities to the quick. Ay, 
he felt that he could offer his body to be burned 
on the grand piazza of the heedless city, if only 
such a sacrifice might stir the souls of its thou- 
sands, and set them in the road to eternal life. 

" Once it bid fair for reformation," he murmured ; 
u but the movement is stifled ere this, and Naples 7 
day of grace is past. Good sister/' he added aloud 
to old Clarice, "have our friends any meeting- 
place now, as in times gone by?" 

" Alas !" was the reply, " save a gathering here, 
or in some poor brother's upper room, we dare not 
assemble regularly to worship the Lord. A great 
many of them have gone back, signor, affrighted, 


doubtless, at the cruel rage of the adversary. Ah, 
gentlemen, how different was it in the days of 
my mistress, the most illustrious sigriora, Giula 
Gonzaga, when I have seen the noblest dames and 
doctors of Naples all assembled to study the sacred 

" Wert thou then," asked Paschali, with interest, 
" appertaining to the household of that celebrated 

"Ay was I, signor; and there I learned the 
truth, which has become a part of my own soul. 
For meetings were held in my lady's private 
chambers, to which sometimes her servitors were 
admitted, when any learned man was to edify by 
preaching the word. Whom have I not seen there 
among the noble and the good of Naples ? And 
how beautiful was she herself, my most illustrious 
mistress ! Those two ladies, sisters-in-law likewise, 
were like angels come down from heaven, more 
lovely than any man had ever beheld the Mar- 
chesa di Pescara and my mistress. Often have I 
seen them sitting humbly side by side, with a 
volume of the gospel-book, the 'Vangelo, between 
them, while some learned doctor expounded it in 
their hearing. She had the most golden hair that 
ever was seen, had the Marchesa Yittoria; but 


verily you could not tell which of the twain was 
loveliest, my mistress or she. And they were as 
good as they were beautiful, and loved each other 
exceeding much, though they loved our Saviour 
Christ more than all things. Ah ! most blessed 
days were those ! but poor old Clarice is left al- 
most a sole relic in Naples, for they are all dead 
or gone. I'm like a withered cluster of last year's 
grapes on a blasted vine, signer ! Well, pazienza ! 
the good Lord won't forget poor old Clarice when 
his time comes." 

Attending them during supper, and by no means 
to be persuaded to partake of the meal, she had 
more to say of her remembrances on the same sub- 
ject. Twenty-two years before, the Reformed doc- 
trines had found in Naples some of their warmest 
supporters throughout Italy. A band of earnest 
believers quickly gathered round Juan Yaldez, a 
highly-born and intellectual Spaniard, who, en- 
trusted with a German embassy by Charles the 
Fifth, had in Germany found the turning-point of 
his life when he read the writings of Luther, and 
felt the truths therein contained brought home to 
his heart by the Divine Spirit. Coming to Naples 
as secretary to the viceroy, and conscious in him- 
self that he was a saved man through the belief 


of Christ, he could not rest satisfied without im- 
parting this life-giving faith to others; and the 
distinctive doctrines of justification by faith and 
sanctification by the Spirit were received among 
the noble and the highly educated before the dark 
suspicion of heresy had visited Yaldez. He had 
extraordinary influence, from his position and his 
talents, with those of the highest rank, and this 
power he used for his soul's Master without ceas- 
ing; and the more efficaciously in that he wore no 
ecclesiastical frock, nor ever arrogated to himself 
the office of preacher. But he was a close, careful 
Bible-student, and his whole conduct was per- 
meated with the piety thence drawn ; his eloquence 
of conversation and elegance of manner were 
pressed also into the service of his Lord; men 
saw that he lived the truths which he professed; 
and the beauty of his example drew forth many 
inquirers to ask after "the more excellent way" in 
which Juan Yaldez was walking. 

Old Clarice remembered that spare, slender 
figure well, which seemed always in infirm health, 
yet always beaming with intellect and heart-happi- 
ness. It was the centre of every gathering of the 
Reformed in Naples for many a year. She had 
seen it surrounded by such learners as Peter 


Martyr, Carnesecchi, Marc Antonio Flaminio (the 
greatest Latinist of his age), Giula Gonzaga and 
Vittoria Colonna. The honest fruit-seller com- 
prehended not the full significance of such names, 
but she knew that they were of the world's great 
ones ; and many besides poor Clarice were attracted 
by the brilliancy of the clique, who in time of 
temptation and persecution fell away, l.ocause they 
had no deepness of earth. 

" But, gentlemen, I was forgetting ;" and away 
bustled the old woman to the crevice in her cavern 
home which acted as her cellar, the cool storage- 
place for fruits and flowers over-night. " Gentle- 
men, here's some of the best wine of Naples, from 
the black volcanic grape which is so much esteemed. 
Ecco ! 'tis almost thick ; they call it mangiaguerra : 
you've no such wine in the North, signor." 

But she thought that they did not at all do 
justice to her precious beverage in the small 
quantity each used. 

" These are no times for fleshly delights, such as 
eating and drinking beyond what we need for mere 
sustainment of our bodily strength," observed the 
ascetic Paschali, in answer to her remonstrance. 
" Good sister, be not like Martha in the 'Vangelo, 
who was cumbered about much serving." 


"And if the honest woman had a house and 
guests as I have, it was all very natural and proper 
that she should be desirous to serve them," cried 
old Clarice, her housewifely instincts rising. " And 
thou, young signor, hast had never a roof of thine 
own, or believe me, thou wouldst understand her 

Paschali made no reply ; but a glance of Negri- 
no's assured the latter that his companion was 
carried back in thought to the fair betrothed in 
Geneva, the maiden with whom he had hoped one 
day to share a home. The young man arose and 
walked quickly to the unshuttered opening which 
served for a window. How would the old host- 
ess 7 heart have yearned over him, with the true in- 
stincts of woman whose compassion is deep for 
such things had she guessed how matters stood 
with that fine, soldierly fellow ! As it was, she felt 
somewhat affronted and put up her wine with an 
offended air. 

The two pastors had some business with a cer- 
tain Neapolitan, who carried on the trade of a gold- 
smith in one of the most populous streets. To 
him they had letters equivalent to money, which it 
behooved them to cash before proceeding further on 
their journey. The man had been a Valdezian 


once, but had taken the safe line of outward con- 
formity to the Romish Church of late years. 

u Better to bend and avoid the storm, than let it 
sweep me away altogether," he remarked, as he 
gathered from a drawer the golden ducats which 
were value for the dingy, uncommercial-looking 
bit of paper that Negrino had given him. "'Tis 
pity/ 7 said he, lingeringly toying with the coins, 
and glancing again half dubiously at the bit of 
paper " 'tis pity to trust such good gold with you, 
messer, on a dangerous errand. Could you not 
leave even a portion in my safe-keeping ? I'll give 
thee warrant for it." 

" Why, man," quoth JNegrino, " it is naught but 
affection for the very metal thou hast, or thou 
wouldst consider that the exchange letter amply 
pays thee for thy trouble. Ah ! my friend, now I 
comprehend how thy former faith has waned so as 
to scandalize thy brethren." 

The citizen minutely scanned the order again 
with a darkened face. Reproof was no sweeter to 
him than to any other man. He commenced pay- 
ing out the money slowly. " But, friend, art thou 
not returning after a time? would it not be well 
to leave some of this gold in safe hands ?" 

No great sum was it after all : Negrino took 


every ducat into his broad leathern purse. "We 
would not be burdensome on the churches/' he 
observed, "although he who serves the altar, 
should live of the altar. And Calabria is no 
such unsafe place, unless the sbirri of the Inqui- 
sition penetrate therein," he added. 

The citizen visibly shuddered as he locked his 
till, more from apprehension for his dear-loved 
money than for himself. Yet some old feeling of 
clanship moved him toward the pastors. " Come/' 
he said, u and rest a while, if ye have no further 
business come in and sup with my family : I am 
glad to see friends of such nature, and truly we 
are not much troubled with them in these days." 

The goldsmith's house was a fine one, and over- 
looked the wide blue bay of Naples, concerning 
whose beauties painters and poets have gone wild 
for expression these two centuries past. Opposite 
rose its distinctive feature, the dread volcano, which 
by day wafts a faint smoke into the blue heavens, 
gentle as the breathing of a censer's incense; and 
by night shows its brow frowned over by a black 
cloud, and furrowed oftentimes with fire. The 
broad road between the houses and the water's 
edge was peopled with an ever-passing throng 
and the highway of the sea was gay with vessels, 


from the latteen-sailed felucca to the armed galley 
of Spain. Truly a fair scene, as well under the 
iron government of Alva as under the tyranny of 
the last Italian Bourbon. 

Our three travellers needed not to sup again, 
but Negrino had desired converse with the gold- 
smith, and embraced the opportunity afforded by 
the social board. The latter was a gray-haired 
man, probably coeval with the century ; his shift- 
ing eyes and hard-set mouth were a good index to 
his character. Yet deep in his soul lay the con- 
viction of the truth of the doctrines which once 
he had openly professed while Religion walked in 
her silver slippers ; and the double-dealing of his 
life brought its own punishment of inquietude and 
unhappiness in its train. 

" Does not the Marchese di Yico dwell some- 
where near?" asked Negrino. "Methinks his 
palazzo is on the bay, as well as I remember." 

" Ah, yes," replied the citizen, " but farther on 
some distance ; a very noble residence ; but he 
takes no pleasure in aught since he is so angered 
with his son." 

A light broke on Negrillo's countenance : " Gal- 
eazzo Caraccioli hath indeed chosen the better part, 
and counted the reproach of Christ greater riches 



than the treasures of Egypt," he observed, smiling 
" He hath seen the recompense of the reward by 
faith, and deems the same worth some little en- 

" Well, well, there's reason in all things," re- 
joined the time-serving citizen. "And when a 
man is born to a great inheritance, I see not why 
he should willingly put himself on equality with 
those who are born to nothing but hard work." 

" There's one answer to it all, my friend ' for 
Christ's sake !' The noble young marquis knows 
that he cannot bear too much for him who died to 
save his soul. Thou didst know Caraccioli at 
Geneva, my brother?" 

This he said to Paschal i, who answered in the 
affirmative : {t He is among the refugees in most 
consideration, so that to him Calvin hath dedicated 
a Commentary ; yet he has laid aside his title, and 
lives as simply as any barbe of the valleys, with- 
out the least pretension." 

"And now, with his relative Caraffa on the 
papal throne, he might hope for any reward were 
he to give up the faith," remarked Negrino. 

" That was one of the bribes held out to tempt 
him when some time since his father had an inter- 
view with him at Mantua. But finding him in- 


flexible to prayers and considerations of interest, 
the old man ended by cursing him heartily and 
loading him with the bitterest reproaches." 

"Ay, he has proved himself a good soldier," 
was Negrino's observation. 

"But his hardest trial of all," said Paschali, 
"was when his wife, whom he tenderly loved, 
wrote to him, naming a place of meeting where 
she could propound to him certain scruples of con- 
science. And when, at the risk of his life, he 
reached the castle of Vico, where his whole family 
were assembled, he found that 'the said scruples 
were artful insinuations of her confessor, that she 
ought to divorce herself from a heretic. Even 
this did not move the young man's steadfastness, 
nor the tears and caresses of his little children, nor 
the entreaties of his aged father, renewed with im- 
portunity. No, he could not falsify his faith for 
the dearest relationships on earth combined ! He 
came back, looking haggard and worn from the 
effects of this fiery trial; and what is mine to 
his ?" added Paschali, mentally. 

"Another star in Valdez' crown of rejoicing," 
said Negrino, his eyes on the distant altar-fire of 
the volcano. " ' Whoso leaveth wife and children, 
and houses and lands, for my sake and the gos- 


pel's/ saith Christ, < shall receive an hundred- 
fold.' " 

" It is well for those to whom grace is given," 
quoth the worthy citizen, who had fidgetted a little 
during the story of Caraccioli. And when, later 
in the evening, his guests rose to depart, he drew 
Negrino aside, and besought him once more to re- 
flect whether the sum he was carrying in solid gold 
were not better left in surety till matters were some- 
what more settled ; " For they say," added the gold- 
smith, "that whensoever Alva succeeds in erecting 
his Spanish Inquisition here, the first onslaught 
will be on that very Calabrian territory whereunto 
you are bound; and then, signor " shrugging his 
shoulders expressively, as if to signify a universal 
deluge, in which gold-pieces must needs be irre- 
coverably swallowed up. 

"Amico mio, I had trouble to keep thy patri- 
mony from his hands," said Negrino to Francesco 
Altieri, as they proceeded to old Clarice's cavern- 
quarters for the night. For the major part of the 
gold belonged to Francesco, and was intended for 
investment in some fields and house where he 
might prepare a home for his wife. He had not 
been reassured by the goldsmith's last statement; 
but it only proved a fresh anxiety to cast upon his 



strong Saviour. What he would have done, many 
a time, but for that mighty refuge and help, what 
worldly men did always without it amid the tur- 
moils and uncertainties of this troublesome life, he 
could not tell. 



'HE monastery bells from the heights were 
tolling the Ave Maria; soothingly floated 
down the chimes through the still evening 
air, and all men paused in their work or their 
pleasure, whatever it might be, to utter the un- 
meaning prayer which was, in their habit, indis- 
solubly connected with those evening bells. The 
goatherd stood still in his lounging march home- 
ward, the peasant with the buffalo cart made the 
sign of the cross and muttered, the housewife laid 
down her spindle for a minute; and Italy was 
wrapped in brief, idolatrous devotion from the 
Alps to the Straits of Messina. 

Scarcely a whit more idolatrous had it been the 
glory of the sinking sun which they adored, as 
away the orb subsided from sight, settling down 
like a red wreck, into the great Mediterranean Sea. 
Through the mouth of the valley that pageant 
could be seen, where the spurs of the Southern 
Apennines stood apart to admit cool, salt breezes 



into the heart of a hot land. But all in that glen 
did not worship when the monastery chimes came 
floating down so musically from the heights. 
Certain cottages there were where dwelt men of 
doubtful opinions, but of uudoubted character; 
men seldom seen at mass or confession, but always 
seen when a sick neighbour needed help, or some 
righteous work for public weal required to be done; 
men whom monk and priest hated, except for the 
fat tithes, the best in the district, paid regularly 
from their farms; yet who were loved by the 
peasantry about them for their kindliness and good- 
will. This contrariety between heretical faith and 
most Christian practice had sorely confounded 
others than the illiterate farmers of Calabria. "If 
you ask what is its manner of life," wrote Saint 
Bernard, "nothing is more irreproachable. The 
Vaudois heretic strikes no one, defends no one, does 
not exalt himself above any one. Fastings render 
him pale; he does not eat the bread of idleness, 
but labours with his own hands for a livelihood." 
And an archbishop of Turin had testified, "They 
are without blame among men, applying themselves 
with all their power to the observance of the com- 
mandments of God." 

Our travellers, with the bright sunset before 


alluded to, had reached the outskirts of the 
Vaudois settlements. But they were anxious to 
attain San Sesto before resting, if possible; and 
pushed on through the waning, many-coloured 
light, and through the beautiful landscape of wood 
and hill and fertile valley, where the air was laden 
with luxurious perfume from the orange-blossom 
and from hedges of sweet myrtle; and for treble 
to the grand bass diapason of the not distant surge 
was the shrill musical monotone of the cicala in 
the long grass, and the notes of some of the latest- 
waking birds in the copse. How lovely was every 
scene ! how peaceful ! Francesco's heart beat with 
throbs of joy to think of Bianca's happiness here, 
if their heavenly Father so willed it. 

The twilight was not long: before Francesco 
had ceased from the thought of Bianca, night had 
descended upon the glowing world, and troops of 
stars rushed forth into the purple vault above. 
Simultaneously, troops of other stars seemed to 
kindle on the earth; myriads of brilliant atoms 
flitted about, an evanescent illumination of all 
dark places. Never had our Northerns seen fire- 
flies so numerous and dazzling; they could scarcely 
weary of admiration, for in this land night seemed 
jocund as day. 


A mass of dark, mysterious woods girded the 
road almost to the dwellings of San Sesto. Prim- 
eval forest and marsh, according to Negrino ; " a 
retreat for our four thousand," quoth he, " should 
ever which God forbid ! persecution set its iron 
front in our territory." The Neapolitan's words 
had perhaps helped him to a foreboding. 

"And the colony amounts to four thousand?" 
said Francesco. "A strong body, especially of 
such men as our Yaudois. Methinks even Philip's 
government would hesitate ere it lent sanction to 
the oppression of so many good subjects and 

"Ah, but see you not," returned Negrino, " that 
the Church has no such scruples ; its officers are 
the most pitiless men alive men in whom every 
feeling of compassion and brotherliness has been 
stifled by their unnatural life, devoid of hallowing 
domestic ties. But evil is sufficient for its own 
day," he added, more cheerfully. " Not a hair of 
,our head can perish without our Father. Come, 
my brothers, let us sing the ' Hymn of the Cross.' " 

And the three voices, on the skirts of the dark 
forest, raised the sweet words of Savonarola : 

"Jesu, sommo comforto, 
Tn sei tutto il mio amore, 


E'l mio beato porto, 

E santo Redentore ! 
O gran bonta! dolce pieta! 
Felice quel che teco unito sta 1" 

" Yes, happy the soul united unto thee !" reiter- 
ated Negrino, pausing in the chant. " My 
brothers, in the strength of this shall we not face 
any woe, knowing that life or death cannot separate 
us from the love of Christ?" 

The hymn, heard distantly by the dwellers in 
San Sesto, was recognized ere the singers had ended 
it and reached the first houses of the little town. 
JSTegrino threaded his way with the assured step of 
one familiar to the place, unheeding the curiosity 
of people that turned out of their cottages to look 
at the strangers as the bright moonlight revealed 
them, until he came to a small habitation close by 
a large one. And here, opening the door without 
preliminary, he was in the presence of a family at 
supper. The father rose up inquiringly, but after 
a steady glance, he embraced the foremost of the 
three : " My brother ! thou hast returned ! Thou 
art a thousand times welcome." 

" And I have brought thee a new pastor," said 
Negrino, introducing Paschali "a pastor that 
shall abide to feed the flock, and that is fearless as 


any mountain eagle in his defence of truth." he 

The younger man smiled, perhaps a little sadly, 
at the commendation. The Vaudois schoolmaster 
looked narrowly at his countenance as he grasped 
his hand ; then, as if satisfied with the inspection, 
he wrung it again, cordially : " Welcome, in thy 
Master's name." 

Wife and children were meanwhile busy adding 
to the repast for the strangers ; an uncut goat's- 
milk cheese was produced, more maize-cakes put 
on the table, some Calabrian wine drawn from their 
small stores ; chestnuts and olives brought them to 
their limit of variety ; and the good woman secretly 
wished she had only known of the guests before- 
hand she might have procured grapes, or even 
baked fresh maize-cakes, instead of these stale, 
crusty things. 

She was soon easy on the subject, for two of the 
new arrivals seemed not to know what they were 
eating, and engrossed her husband so much that he 
Avas nigh as abstinent as themselves. Francesco, 
who was not quite so sublimated, won her heart 
by his attention to the cheese and cakes, accom- 
panied with certain laudatory words. 

Supper was scarce over when neighbours began 


to drop in. And soon the news spread like wild- 
fire through the adjoining streets that the new pas- 
tor had come, for whom Marco d'Asceglo had been 
sent, the Gene vese- ordained preacher, who was to 
dwell among them, and set all right which had 
hitherto been wrong in their discipline or doctrine. 
Paschali was nothing loth to begin his ministerial 
work that very hour. To as many as the small 
house would hold, and as many as could hear his 
words through the open door, he preached a full 
and clear gospel. He spared not that which he 
considered their sinful compliances for safety's 

"You have forgotten that you should confess 
Christ's name ; and remember you not, O deluded 
people, that whoso confesseth not Christ upon 
earth shall be denied by him before his Father 
and the holy angels ? Certainly ye are not alone 
in this backsliding. There be some in our valleys 
of the Alps who carry with them certificates that 
they be genuine Papists, and have their children 
baptized by priests with all the mummeries of su- 
perstition ; ay, and go to the so-called sacrifice of 
the mass, openly bowing the knee to Baal, that 
they may be seen of men ; and they excuse them- 
selves verily a fancied excuse ! by saying secretly 


when they enter the mass-house, ' Cave of robbers, 
may God confound thee ! 7 I have heard that 
similar practices extend even here. My brethren, 
such duplicity is intolerable to the righteous Lord. 
Think you that he will not protect the men who 
range themselves under his banner against Anti- 
christ in the face of all the world ? I tell you, 
that if all the devils on earth and in hell were 
leagued to destroy you, mightier is He that is for 
you than all that can be against you ! Your Fa- 
ther can sheath the sword and quench the fagot of 
the persecutor if it be his will ; and if it be not 
his will, O servant of Christ, will there not be a 
quicker entrance into the joy of your Lord and a 
more dazzling crown of glory ?" 

Sobs and moans came from that excitable South- 
ern audience; glowing eyes, betokening glowing 
hearts, met the youthful preacher's every look. 

" I am no smooth man," he said, " and shall 
speak no smooth words to you, people of my 
charge. I shall publish the gospel of Christ 
among you, in this and your other towns, as freely 
and fearlessly as they do at Geneva. Circum- 
stances of peril do not alter a pastor's duty. If it 
were my duty in Switzerland to speak boldly the 
whole doctrine of my Master, it is no less my duty 


in Italy, having no fear before mine eyes but that 
of God." 

Thus did Paschali enunciate the principles which 
were to guide his ministry. Strange, passionate 
feelings of remorse for past dereliction, resolves for 
future duty, admiration of the fearless young man 
who thus offered himself a mark for all venom- 
points of hate and persecution, mingled stormily 
in the breast of many a one in San Sesto that 
night. A throb of electric courage had passed 
from his intrepid soul to theirs ; a new career of 
confessorship was indeed opening before them. 



AASCHALI fulfilled the promise of his earliest 
sermon in San Sesto. Nothing could be more 
uncompromising than his preaching. Through 
all public places in Calabria, wherever descendants 
of the Vaudois were to be found, there did the 
young Genevese pastor stand up and declare the 
gospel of Christ with boldness, fearing no earthly 
menace. Such zeal is infectious. His exhortations 
against the sinful compliances to which fear had 
forced his flock were so eifectual that numbers 
ceased to attend the services of the Eoman Church, 
notwithstanding the suspicion that fell on them 
forthwith. Far and wide it was reported among 
the Roman Catholics of Calabria and Apulia that 
a fiery Lutheran had come from the North, utterly 
to destroy the Church in these provinces. But 
there seemed no feasible plan for silencing the dar- 
ing evangelist as yet. The Vaudois residents were 
protected by the most sacredly stringent conven- 
tions, observed by generations of landholders and 



rulers ; and which guaranteed them certain rights 
of worship and the possession of their own 

" But, my friend," would the gentle Negrino 
say, " thou needest not to be so vehement, nor to 
attack the religion of the majority so openly." 

"Truth requires openness and vehemence," 
would be Paschali's reply. " Too long has God's 
word been spoken with bated breath and fearful- 
ness. Forgettest thou the confession of Angrogna ? 
If 'twere by nothing but that, I am bound to set 
my face against all evasions of duty and every act 
of dissimulation by which the weak-minded seek 
to ward off danger. Thou dost remember how 
that synod adjured all men to practice no more 
concealment, but be open in their profession of 
faith for the glory of God ? And as for my own 
life, brother, which thou apprehendest may fall a 
sacrifice, I fear not," added Paschali, with a sub- 
lime smile. " I have given it to God ; let him use 
it as seemeth good in his sight." 

And the young pastor persisted in denouncing 
every superstition which came under his view; 
would ridicule the ceremonies of dedicating altars 
or holy places, calling them "feasts of stones;" 
would openly proclaim that none but God can ex- 


communicate that every man in a state of grace 
has as much power of absolution as the pope him- 
self, for that the only absolution possible by man 
is the declaring to the contrite heart the benefit of 
the death of Jesus Christ our Lord. Other such 
doctrines, levelling at the root of priestly power, 
would he proclaim on every occasion, continually 
fearless of consequences. 

Thus a year passed by. Mutterings of storm 
were heard in the distance, but the heaven over the 
Yandois was as yet serene, while the other Re- 
formed communities of Italy experienced the full 
buffettings of persecution. Often did Francesco 
and his wife (for Bianca had now joined him) con- 
gratulate each other on the quiet retreat they had 
found in these Calabrian vales, where they could 
worship their God in simplicity and peace. Pas- 
chali was a frequent guest in their vine-covered 
cottage not far from the town of La Guardia, 
which Francesco had chosen for neighbourhood be- 
cause it was the single fortified place possessed by 
the colonists, and had been erected purposely for 
defence and refuge on the sea-coast. The first 
Vaudois had been aided to build it by their feud- 
atory the Marquis of Spinello, who named it 

from its guardian wall. 


One bright evening in July, 1559, Bianca was 
sitting in the little garden which fronted their cot- 
tage, waiting for the return of her husband from 
the fields. At her feet on the grass nestled a little 
child of some months old. She looked away to- 
ward the concentrated brilliance of the sunset over 
the sea. A few bands of rose-coloured vapour lay 
about the declining orb ; and away farther north 
was piled a stone-gray mass of cloud, now gilded 
most beautifully on its protuberances, and almost 
imperceptibly dilating, climbing, sailing southward. 

" Ha ! eccolo ! my little bird ! my angel ! here 
comes father. Dost see thy father, little one? 
Look down the slope, inio fanciulletto ! Ah, thou 
seest him thou shalt run to meet him, little bird ! 
And the good pastor is with him ; nay, frown not 
at the stranger, mio bambinello, my precious one !" 

And carrying on such running remarks concern- 
ing the phases of feeling which she, by an innocent 
fiction not yet wholly extinct, chose to attribute to 
her babe, the young mother hastened toward the 
pair who were slowly ascending the hill. Before 
reaching them she saw that some grave business 
was in hand. Francesco's eyes met hers without 
the usual smile he even put by her arm in an 
abstracted way, and scarce noticed his child. She 


stepped behind into the narrow path with an un- 
defined sinking at her heart, conscious that the 
matter must indeed be important which absorbed 
her husband's faculties so completely ; and the old 
bugbear of Bianca's life rose before her again the 
very real fiend, Persecution. 

It was no sentimental terror, this which had 
overshadowed her since her early days at Locarno. 
She had lived in a continual dread and doubt 
until her removal to Calabria, where the extensive 
tract of country peopled by Protestants, their or- 
ganization and guaranteed immunities gave her a 
sense of security unknown before. And now, was 
the old dread to be revived ? Walking after the 
men in the path, she would overhear such low 
words as the " marquis our suzerain " " never 
adverse formerly " " summons to appear at Fos- 
calda," and others like these ; whence her woman's 
wit easily welded the truth. 

Suddenly her husband turned round as if some 
idea had struck him, and he took the burden of 
the child from her arms. " 'Tis too much for thee, 
uphill, my Bianca ;" and the grave face resumed 
its talking with Paschal i. 

The Marchese di Spinello summon the Vaudois 
before him ! Why, he had always hitherto been 


friendly; verily it was his interest to be so, seeing 
that he had no more improving tenants on all his 
lands than these " oltra-montani," as the Romish 
peasantry styled them. No higher or surer rents 
were payable throughout the province than they 
paid. Some dense pressure must have been put on 
him from without to induce this seemingly hostile 
step of a formal citation. Arid the poor young 
wife trembled in her very soul as she heard again 
the dreaded names which had been familiar enough 
in Ferrara the Holy Office, the Inquisition, the 
Congregation of the Faith. Mysterious and aw- 
ful powers ! Bianca pressed her hand on her 
throbbing little heart, which already imagined 
the worst, and unspoken words ascended in prayer 
to God. 

The child reached forth its chubby hands, with 
inarticulate murmurings of wishfulness, toward a 
bright knot of crimson gladiolas growing on a crag 
beside the pathway. The father stopped and gath- 
ered for him the blossoms, smiling at his eagerness, 
and smiling also back at the mother, by which 
action he became aware of the fear dwelling in her 
face. Immediately he left Paschal i and drew her 
arm within his own : 

u What aileth thee, dear one ? Is it this news 


of the summons before the marquis that affriglit- 
eth thee? Let not thy faith be small, my wife. 
He who has delivered us from six troubles is not 
powerless to save us from the seventh." 

" But tell me, Francesco tell me what it is ; 
what causeth this sudden change of our lord's de- 
meanour ? He was wont to be conciliating toward 
the oltra-montani." 

A slight contraction grew on her husband's brow. 
" To tell thee very truth, I know not," was his re- 
ply. u It may be but to save appearances with 
the court of Rome and that merciless bigot, Philip 
of Spain, his liege lord and our sovereign. It may 
be that he is compelled to wear an aspect of aus- 
terity against us, which his heart belies ; for unless 
the man be a very monster of falsity, he bears us 
good-will, and is thoroughly alive to his own inter- 
ests in having such tenants as the Vaudois. So 
put not on thyself the burden of to-morrow, Bi- 
anca mia, in addition to what our most blessed 
God has given us to carry to-day : he has promised 
strength for the day, dear one, but not strength 
for the morrow.' 7 

" Yet the child, the child, Francesco !" and all 
the disquiet of her heart was expressed in the pas- 
sionate embrace which wrapped the boy for a mo- 


ment; " we might bear persecution for ourselves 
but for kirn !" Her eyes were full of tears. 

" Tut, tut, thou trembler !" said her husband. 
" Dotli not thy God love him even better than 
thou ? Canst thou not trust ? The grain of mus- 
tard-seed hath more faith than we who call our- 
selves Christians, and who profess to have a more 
enduring substance in heaven, and a city which 
hath foundations ! Dishonour not thy Saviour by 
such doubt, my little one. Perchance thou art 
conjuring up fears which are but phantoms. It is 
a very innocent thing after all, this citation. Pas- 
chal i is sanguine of a favourable result : if they 
seek to put us down by controversy, no man is 
more able at the weapons of dialectic discourse 
than he." 

The pastor was walking forward, his head erect, 
with the usual fearless, martial air which he had 
drawn from nature and training ; perhaps a little 
pang at his heart as he was copscious of the pair 
behind him, happy even in this hour of fear that 
they could trust in one another. And wrenching 
his mind from that, as many a time he had to do, 
by reason of the enervation which attends useless 
wishings, Paschali grasped the truth of his position 
now, standing in the forefront of his four thousand 


Vaudois, first to meet whatever storm was coming. 
His heroic soul rose to the height of his great call- 
ing to be an example in all things, not only by 
word and deed, but also by patience, to those 
among whom God had made him overseer; and 
the thought of divine duty comforted him, as it 
does all strong souls. 

When Bianca and the child had passed into the 
cottage, the men lingered a moment outside. The 
glory of the sunset had all but departed ; only a 
gold streak or two lined the edge of the great blue 
sea. And the bank of heavy cloud had stolen 
onward in its imperceptible march, threatening pres- 
ently to swallow up even the gleam of past light. 
Amidst it, as they looked at its black folds, burst 
forth a sheet of pale lightning, wavering for an 
instant among abysses of the solid vapour, reveal- 
ing a world of menacing heights and gulfs aloft in 
that cloud-land. 

"I fear me a storm is gathering from the north,' r 
observed Francesco, looking at his friend with a 
meaning. Paschali's eyes were now fixed on the 
rapidly fading gleam in the west. 

"The light is but overlaid, curtained not ex- 
tinguished," was his remark. "God's sun must 
run its appointed course, and no earth-born clouds 


can permanently blot its glory. Amico mio, let 
us sing the forty-sixth of David's Psalms." And 
some of the sublime trust therein breathed entered 
into their souls : 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present 
help in trouble. 

"Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be 
removed, and though the mountains be carried into 
the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof 
roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake 
with the swelling thereof." 

Ere it was ended, Francesco felt his wife's cheek 
laid against his arm, and heard her clear voice 
mingling in the strain : 

"Be still, and know that I am God: I wiil be 
exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our refuge." 

Grand words and inspiring, even as we read 
them here, sitting safely in our protected English 
homes. But what were those thoughts of divine 
all-power and guardian care to men and women 
who thoroughly realized the need of it in the 
common affairs of life who might to-morrow be 
dragged from their home to noisome dungeons by a 
relentless tyranny who might end their career on 
the scaffold or by the sword of indiscriminate mas- 


sacre? I tell you that the whole Bible was trans- 
figured by such light of possible experience, and 
its truths were intensified so as we can scarce 

And for many an hour during that wild night 
of tempest did Bianca lie awake, listening and 
dreading. Through pauses of the blast she could 
hear the pastor's voice from his little chamber in 
the roof; she could distinguish no word, but 
judged from the earnest tone that it was prayer. 
And here lay the secret of Paschali's strength in 
close, constant communion with his God. Like 
Luther, he wrestled mightily and prevailed. 



HITS, next morning, was Paschali fitted to be 
the animating soul of the body of Vaudois 
which obeyed the summons of their suzerain 
and journeyed toward Fosealda before noontide. 

All men of mark among the colonists were there. 
At their head walked Marco d'Asceglio, "the prin- 
cipal man," who had been deputed to obtain them 
a preacher from Geneva, and whose exertion had 
gained them Paschali. He and the pastor like- 
minded in many ways led the van of the party, 
though sometimes they dropped behind among the 
others, with cheering or strengthening words. 

"I desire nothing better/' said the zealous young 
pastor, "than an opportunity to preach Christ's 
glorious gospel to the marquis and his officers the 
truth of God against any man's falsehood, ay, 
albeit he were a pope! Perchance the marquis 
may have Romish priests to argue down our faith ; 
I hope so I desire nothing better than a tilt at 
arms with the heaviest-armed doctor of them all !" 



"But, my brother," said D'Asceglio, "it is 
probable that our lord the marquis has been urged 
to this citation and apparent unfriendliness by the 
bigots' outcry round him; he finds, perchance, that 
he will himself be suspected of heresy if he scowls 
not at us. This may be a monitory measure a 
safeguard for us as well as for himself." 

"Let me only spread the truth of God, whether 
by life or by death," rejoined the intrepid Paschali. 
"And thou, my brother," quoth he to Francesco 
Altieri, whose heart was heavy enough as he 
thought of the precious ones at home in the vine- 
covered cottage, "be not mournful, as if the great 
God were dead, and no help could come from 
heaven. But I have a commission to give thee, 
should aught that men call evil befall me this day. 
Thou knowesfc how I have been preparing a new 
translation, in French and Italian, of the most 
blessed word of life, especially for our people, who 
comprehend either tongue. I would have thee 
take the papers in thy custody, and let them not 
perish, but prosper to the end I purposed in the 
undertaking. At Lyons, or at Geneva, thou 
mayest find a printer willing for the risk; which 
indeed I trust is small in days when Holy Scrip- 
ture hath so many readers." 


Francesco could not help remarking that the 
chances of his escape, should an outburst of perse- 
cution corne, were but small wife and child were 
no aids to rapid and secret travelling. " And 
where, upon this earth, shall we find rest for the 
sole of our feet?" he added, somewhat bitterly. 
" Were I alone, I think I should not care to walk 
to the death for sake of the most blessed Christ ; 
but, O my friend, thou knowest not the anguish of 
fearing for those dearer than life !" 

" Nor know I the joy of possessing such/' re- 
turned Paschali, sadly. " But thou must pray for 
more faith, my brother ; more of such faith as can 
subdue the world under our feet, can stop the 
mouths of lions, can quench the violence of fire, 
and out of weakness be made strong !" 

But a deep yearning lay in those anxious hearts 
for rest, for some safety or assurance, such as we 
enjoy every day around us like the common air, so 
perpetual a blessing that we cease to recognize it or 
to be thankful for it. What would not the har- 
assed Lutherans of Italy have given for a measure 
of our security, our tranquil certainty that "to- 
morrow shall be as this day," so far as regards 
social safety and permission to serve God as we 
list ! Let us not forget to enter this In the roll of 


our thanksgivings to that heavenly Father who 
has set us a peaceable habitation, guarded by 
law and guaranteed by the strength of a mighty 

The Marquis di Spinel lo met his vassals with a 
stern demeanour. They had exceeded the limits 
of their liberty they had attacked the ruling 
Church by the mouths of their pastors with a 
license altogether to be condemned, and which the 
marquis would not permit in the districts of which 
he was suzerain. " Since your coming," added the 
nobleman, addressing himself to Paschali, "there 
has been naught but confusion and uproar. You 
have drawn these oltra-montani from the peaceable 
ways of their forefathers, from the decent agree- 
ment with others in worship and manners of life, 
to a fancied rule of your own, to a rejection of 
every symbol of the true faith, and made them I 
know not what truly I know not what," ended 
the marquis, plucking his moustache in sore per- 

a Most noble marquis," began the young pastor, 
gently, " it is not that I have made them anything, 
but the Spirit of God, that divine flame which 
cometh down from heaven and giveth light to dead 
human hearts. And as touching the practices and 


doctrines of that false religion which thou callest 
true, I am ready to join issue with any of your 
Excellency's chaplains or learned men, now, or at 
any future time, to prove them contrary to the 
tenour and spirit of Holy Scripture, which hath 
been appointed to us of God to be our lamp and 

" But I can permit no such controversies within 
my domains," declared the marquis, remembering 
the very emphatic pressure from the ecclesiastic 
powers in Naples which had caused him to con- 
vene this assembly of his chief tenants. "Ye 
must submit, ye must obey," he reiterated. " I 
can have no heresies in my domains. Ye must 
hold your peace, and be content to do as did your 
forefathers. Why can ye not let your children 
be baptized" he had taken up a paper, apparently 
of charges against the Yaudois, and cast his eye 
along the items " and assist at the celebration of 
mass, and keep the saints' days and fast days, and 
pay your dues regularly as heretofore ? If ye will 
return to the old ways, there may yet be peace ; 
and if not, I give warning that I cannot sacrifice 
myself to protect a set of obstinate, wrong-headed 

A moment's silence among the Yaudois : they 


looked at one another. All knew now wherefore 
they had been assembled, and what they had to 
expect in case of adherence to their faith. 

" Yes, yes," said the marquis, who looked on the 
slight pause as favourable to the success of his 
design "yes, yes, good people, submit, obey, 
and there shall be no more about this. I will 
intercede for you ;" and his Excellency smoothed 
back his short, peaked beard complacently. " Only 
obey, good people ; nothing is easier." 

" Pardon us, most noble marquis," said D'As- 
ceglio, stepping forward a pace in front of his 
brethren : " nothing is more impossible. I speak 
for all, when I say that never will we give up our 
right to that blessed gospel which has brought us 
salvation ; never will we enter the churches where 
Roman worship of saints and angels defiles God's 
sanctuary. But we appeal to the conventions 
under which our forefathers settled on the lands 
of your Excellency's ancestors conventions, the 
latest of which is ratified by no less a person than 
Ferdinand of Arragon, King of Spain and Naples, 
and which not even Philip himself durst disregard. 
Your Excellency may recollect that under those 
deeds we were guaranteed perfect freedom of wor- 
ship; we were permitted to govern ourselves in 


civil matters by our own magistracy, as in spiritual 
matters by our own pastors ; and we have done 
nothing to deserve the forfeiture of these privi- 

The marquis had listened with ill-restrained 
impatience, and now broke forth afresh : " I arn 
neither theologian nor lawyer ; I will have none 
of this. It comes to the one point will you sub- 
mit to the Church's authority or will you not ?" 

Then said Paschali, " We must obey God 
rather than men." 

A murmur of approbation followed his words. 
The marquis started from his seat in a fury. 
" Away with him to the dungeons !" The guard 
of sbirri seized Paschali. " My lord, this is illegal 
no charge has been laid against me." 

" We will find charges enough !" said the mar- 
quis, vehemently. " It is enough that thou hast 
disturbed and perverted the people, making the 
province a very hotbed of heresy." 

Paschali remembered one to whose charge was 
laid the like, and he held his peace. A priest at 
the marquis' elbow whispered him something. 

" Ay, truly, this other man seems a pestilent 
fellow likewise; we had best have him in safe- 
keeping also. Arrest Marco d'Asceglio for being 


a ringleader of heresy and sedition, and have 
them both to the prison of the castle : there they 
may preach and pray so long as they list." 

A dead silence fell upon the remaining Vaudois, 
A parting look was all the farewell of those dear 
brethren, but that Paschali said, "Quit you like 
men, be strong !" The marquis, chafing with 
vexation for his sudden rage and the monk at his 
ear had committed him to a line of conduct whicli 
his sober judgment by no means approved bit his 
moustaches petulantly, and growled like one of his 
own hounds: 

" Ye see what ye have to expect. I'll have no 
heresy in my domains : I'll have none but good 
Catholics on my lands." Francesco thought he said 
this manifestly for the benefit of the monk beside 
him. " As to those old conventions to which yon 
fellow appealed but just now, his Holiness is not 
bound by one of them ; his Holiness knows nothing 
about them. And King Philip knows that a 
ruler's obligation is to root out heresy." Here the 
evil-omened monk whispered again. 

" Is one Stefano Negrino among you ?" inquired 
his Excellency the mouthpiece. " My summons ex- 
tended to him did it not ?" addressing the secre- 
tary, who answered in the affirmatively. But Ne- 



grino was not present, and the design of the in- 
quisitor was baffled for that time. 

" I will have no heretics on my lands/' repeated 
the marquis, who took refuge in this tautology 
whenever he was at a loss for somewhat convincing 
to say. " So now go home, all of you ' oltra- 
montani/ and reflect on what you've seen, and 
remember that I expect obedience and submission 
from you all as your suzerain and liege, and I 
command you to obey the holy Church and our 
Holy Father." This oration concluded, his Ex- 
cellency the not very fluent marquis rose from his 
seat in the great hall, and raising the tapestry at 
his left hand passed out of sight. The audience 
was ended. 

Bianca waited long that evening for her hus- 
band's return. The child was sleeping ; and again 
and again she went to the door to look out, seeing 
a most serene heaven lit with the great silver- 
shielded moon, which had eclipsed the stars in all 
her neighbourhood, as day eclipses them, by 
affluence of light. But for many a weary hour no 
echo of footstep satisfied the young wife's ear. 
Her heart was sick before it came. Nor hers 
alone, but in fifty Vaudois cottages that night was 
the same anxious watch the same yearning of 


listening. What had been the result of that day's 
perilous interview ? For that it was perilous, and 
a premonition of worse things coming, the instinct 
of affection too truly told those women-watchers. 

At last oh joy ! the step is heard, rapidly 
ascending toward the vine-clad cottage. Bianca 
flies to meet him. " What news ? what has been 
done?" and many a thanksgiving for his safety 
interpolates his narrative. 

u But where is the pastor Paschali ? I deemed 
he was to have been home with thee.'' 

" He is in prison at Foscalda. There ! it were 
no use to conceal from thee what is the town-talk 
already. He and Marco d'Asceglio were arrested 
before the audience was over. The marchese was 
much chafed, and ordered it in a sudden wrath, 
but I daresay that before a few days they may be 
released." Francesco said nothing of the spiritual 
power at the nobleman's elbow. 

Bianca shuddered, clinging to her husband's 
arm. "God was very merciful that thou wert not 
taken," she murmured. "But the evil days are 
come, and the curse of Cain is on this land it 
contains no rest. Let us go away, Francesco." 

" Away, dear one ?" he repeated. " Whither ? 
Are not all other regions of Italy even more dan- 


gerous than this? No; we will wait and see 
what God has in store for Calabria. Perchance 
this is but a passing gust of storm, which will 
blow over. The imprisonment of two is not the 
persecution of a nation ; and however the marquis 
may swagger, he can scarce disregard the treaties 
under which the oltra-montani colonized here." 

" But another power can, and will," interposed 
Bianca. " The Inquisition knows no law, human 
or divine. Let us go away, Francesco, if only for 
the child's sake." 

" Dear one, thou rememberest not how the chief 
part of my small patrimony is sunk in this cottage 
and these fields : until I find a purchaser, at least, 
we must remain. It all comes to this, my wife : 
' GOD is our refuge and strength. 7 " 



'HE bright busy months of harvest and of vin- 
tage came, and passed over the valleys of 
Calabria. And during the earliest of them 
it was reported that the fiery old Caraffa, Pope 
Paul the Fourth, bigot and persecutor, had died. 
Rather good news for Protestants everywhere, but 
especially those within arm's reach in Italy, could 
they have hoped that the intolerant spirit of which 
he was the embodiment had died with him. Regu- 
larly every Thursday had the aged pontiff attended 
the Congregation of the Inquisition and urged 
forward the severest measures against heretics. 
Whatever other duty of his office was left undone, 
he never forgot this. His bigotry grew into a 
rampant rage against all who dared differ from 
him : the very cardinals and inquisitors themselves 
became objects of his suspicion. His last words were 
to commend the Inquisition to the care of the Con- 
clave ; and with the thought the old man, invig- 
orated for a moment, strove to raise himself up to 



speak further; but strength there was none he 
fell back and died. 

Then the people arose, and their concentrated 
fury burst forth when the keen, lion-like eye that 
had so often awed them was dull and closed. They 
rushed upon the statue of the pope, and took a 
poor revenge for his tyrannies by breaking it in 
pieces and dragging the triple-crowned head 
through the mire of the streets. A worthier effort 
of their rage was the attacking and burning of the 
Inquisition buildings and destruction of the ar- 
chives. The Dominican convent della Minerva, 
whose brethren were particularly active against 
heresy, narrowly escaped the same fate. 

The echoes of these doings penetrated even to 
the Calabrian vintage-grounds, and waked some 
hope in Vaudois breasts. While crushing the 
purple grapes in the winepress or shaking the 
ripe chestnut boughs, these simple people would 
tell each other the exaggerated story how all Rome 
had arisen and cast out the Inquisition ; and who 
knows but it is the beginning of a Protestant 
movement? who knows but the dear pastors will 
soon be released from Foscalda dungeons, and 
liberty of faith be permitted once more ? 

Others, less sanguine, thought it was a mere 


momentary ebullition of feeling, perhaps of tur- 
bulent license, simply the reaction from a tyranny 
to an interregnum ; and the Romans would pres- 
ently accommodate their necks to the yoke as ab- 
jectly as ever, and yell around an auto-da-fe as 
savagely. So the issue proved. 

Did any such news penetrate into the gloomy 
prisons of Foscalda, where the pastor and D'As- 
ceglio lay immured ? Did the long fair summer 
days wane into the shortest, and no tidings from 
the outside world reach these confessors of the 
faith ? None but what their keepers chose to tell. 
How chafed the soldier-spirit of Paschali, which 
could better have borne the active torture than the 
passive endurance ! What strifes for submission 
did he wage with the flesh and the devil ay, and 
with their ally the world, for life was fair to him 
as to most young men, and his prospects might be 
bright enough if he would only give up his 
Saviour ; but by the grace of God he received 
strength to conquer them all. 

Round the evening fires that winter many a 
story crept out among the frightened flock as 
dreadful slimy creatures crawl from the darkness 
of dungeons concerning secret tortures of body 
and of mind borne by their beloved pastor and 


their friend D'Asceglio. Many a brawny hand of 
herdsman and husbandman was clenched in impo- 
tent rage, while the women cowered in terror 
from the tale, and had afterward uneasy dreams. 
It was a time for search ings of heart, for much 
and mighty prayer among these Italian Yaudois. 
And the majority of them feared nothing so greatly 
as a possible desertion of the truth in the hour of 
nature's weakness. Even Bianca could not wish 
to purchase the safety of her husband at this price. 
Yet between her and the sunshine loomed per- 
petually that awful shadow of what might be com- 
ing : had she not from childhood heard of sword 
and fire as the proper heritage of Lutherans ? The 
dread embittered every sweet which God poured 
into her cup of life. It ought not to have been 
so, for Paul writes the injunction, " Be careful for 
nothing ; but in everything by prayer make your 
requests known unto God ; and the peace of God, 
which passeth all understanding, shall keep your 
hearts." Likewise a greater than Paul spoke : 
" Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. Take 
no thought for your life : . . . the very hairs of 
your head are all numbered." Bianca should have 
remembered and practically wrought out these 
blessed truths. The Almighty Father has given 


power to many a weak woman so to do ; as in this 
very year 1560, in the Piedmontese town of Carig- 
nan, a wondrous heroism was witnessed by the 
angels and the inquisitors. A certain man named 
Mathurin was in prison for heresy, and before him 
lay the option of recantation or the fire. Easy 
words for me to write, and for you, my reader, to 
pronounce ; but just try for a moment to realize 
the dread alternative ! His wife obtained leave to 
speak with him for a few moments in presence of 
the commissioners, " for his good," as she phrased 
it, and they understood that after their own fashion ; 
and when she entered his cell she besought him to 
persevere in his confession of faith, and not to 
trouble himself about the agonies of his punish- 
ment, which could not last long, for that if it 
pleased God she would die with him at the same 
stake. Great was the fury of the inquisitors : 
they had made sure that her entreaties would have 
taken quite another turn ; and the utmost effort of 
their malignity could only compass that which 
most she desired a joint entrance into heaven. 

But if we are disposed to censure poor little 
Bianca for her want of faith and trust in the God 
whom she believed to be her Father, do we not 
commit the same sin oftentimes ourselves without 


a tithe of the cause ? Are we not anxious and 
troubled about many things which involve nothing 
at all so precious as the liberty and life of our best 
loved ? Whoever has not thus offended let that 
rare individual pass judgment. 

Francesco tried in vain to keep from her the in- 
telligence which was whispered about in spring, 
blanching many a cheek and lip with fear. Ste- 
fano Negrino, the beloved missionary from the 
Alpine valleys, had been seized and tortured to 

In February of the year the three martyrs had 
been removed from Foscalda to the securer and 
more hopeless dungeons of the castle of Cosenza, 
where the secret efforts of the Marquis di Spinello 
to ward off persecution from them and to avert 
the zeal of the bishop, who was fain to attempt 
forced conversion, would be unavailing. It is 
probable that then the prisoners gave up hope and 
parted company with desire of life. Until the all- 
revealing judgment of the great day the savage 
secrets of Cosenza prison-house may not be known. 
What pressure of torture was applied to the poor 
body, while its unflinching mate the soul, agonized 
in every sensation, yet rose superior to the pain, 
clinging fast to the outstretched hand of Ornnipo- 


tence; what torture of temptation to the mind, 
arrays of promises and threatenings, if by any 
means such noted men might be warped from 
steadfastness, and their fall be as when a standard- 
bearer faileth we have only vain records of these. 
It is certain that the many torturings of the gentle 
Stefano Negrino ended in the climax of death by 
hunger, and through this painful door he entered 
into the joy of his Lord. 

And Marco d'Asceglio, the layman ? had he like 
precious faith ? Could he hold out bravely, though 
assaulted by rack and fagot? There was a pile 
built one April day in the courtyard of the castle, 
and his worn and emaciated form stood upon it to 
be burnt "not accepting deliverance, that he 
might obtain a better resurrection." 

Such heroic self-devotion is pitched more than a 
note too high for our social scale. Comfortable 
carpet Christians are the rule now-a-days; and we 
look back from our easy existence with a half in- 
credulous marvelling at the grand old souls which 
counted not ease or life so dear as Christ. It is 
good to think ourselves back into that age of true 
heroes, and stimulate our sluggish hearts by such 

Paschal i's hour was not yet come. A few days 


after the burning of his friend D'Asceglio he was 
conducted to Naples, in company with twenty-two 
prisoners sentenced to the galleys. The man 
whose crime was preaching Christ chained hand to 
hand with banditti and murderers ! 

It was a long, weary journey on foot. Paschal i's 
letters have left on record some of its painful ness. 
The Spaniard who had charge of the prisoners 
hated the heretic most of all: an assassin was less 
odious in his eyes. In addition to the chain which 
bound Paschali like the others, he put upon him 
"a pair of handcuffs so strait that they entered 
into the flesh." And when at night, after the day's 
march over rough roads and through noontide 
heats, the wretched prisoners reached the rude inn 
where a few hours' pause would be made, their bed 
was the hard earthen floor, without pillow or cover- 
ing, while the very beasts had litter spread on 
which to rest. But if Paschali had the most 
luxurious couch, he could not sleep because of the 
torturing handcuffs eating into his flesh. He asked 
the Spaniard to remove them, and found that what 
would not be done for justice or mercy, might be 
accomplished by an adequate bribe. Alas ! the 
heretic possessed but two ducats in the world ; 
with these he must feed himself. So the hand- 


cuffs remained on him nine nights and days, until 
he was finally lodged in the dungeon allotted to 
him at Naples a most noisome cell, reeking with 
" damp and the putrid breath of prisoners." 

From all which, arid from all possible torture 
and cruel death, he had it in his own power to save 
himself by one simple action, one falsehood : "Say 
that you recant so shall life, enjoyment, honour 
be yours." How often was this fair prospect held 
up before his weary eyes ! How did human nature 
plead within the youthful heart! How did the 
face of his dearly loved, his betrothed, rise with 
irrepressible yearnings of memory, of hope, across 
the blank dungeon walls ! Not alone to the 
Saviour of mankind on the mountain's brow did 
the enemy whisper, "If thou wilt worship me, all 
shall be thine." Paschal i heard the words, but he 
was given grace to turn away likewise from the 

Ay, though he came at last in the guise of a 
beloved brother, who offered Paschali half his 
property if he would recant, and backed the en- 
treaty with prayers and tears ! It was harder to 
endure this than the cajolings and threats of a 
crowd of priests. But the Vaudois pastor stood 
fast by his faith. He was in nowise unwilling to 


live; he loved ease and domestic enjoyments and 
quiet days as much as other men : the difference 
was that he loved his Saviour more. 

Truly an obstinate heretic! So proclaimed all 
the monkish doctors, whose rhetoric was foiled by 
his firm faith. Had the Caraffa been pope he 
would long since have brought so perverse a Luth- 
eran to Rome, and dealt with him in the court of 
the Castle of St. Angelo. But Pius the Fourth, 
of a jovial and worldly disposition, desired not 
the unenviable reputation of his predecessor for 
bigotry and blood-thirstiness. The Inquisition was 
not his pet institution, as it had been Paul's. Nay, 
Pius had been known even to censure the harsh- 
ness of its proceedings, not as inhuman or unjust, 
but simply as impolitic ; yet at the same time he 
declared that he would not interfere with the tri- 
bunal, for he was no theologian. The Congregation 
might continue to do whatever they deemed neces- 
sary for the extirpation of heresy, while his Holi- 
ness amused himself with architecture, gardening, 
conversaziones, diplomacy. Obscure Lutherans 
were no affair of his : if princes were infected, the 
supreme Pontiff might be called on to interfere. 
He wished, indeed, that all the world could quietly 
dwell in the fold of Rome, and be sheared or slain 


meekly at the will of the chief shepherd. As for 
the outlaws who transgress limits, let the Holy 
Office do with them as seemeth good in its sight. 

And presently the Holy Office thought fit to 
have Ludovico Paschali, the obstinate Yaudois 
heretic, who constantly asserted that the pope was 
Antichrist and his seat the apocalyptic Babylon, 
brought in chains to Rome on the 16th of May, 



'HE schoolmaster of San Sesto came home one 
afternoon in the same month of May, de- 
cidedly out of sorts. The playfulness or 
caresses of his children failed to extort a smile on 
his usually indulgent face ; he ate of his favourite 
dish a sort of rude omelet and his wife knew 
that he was scarce conscious of the nature of his 
food. Not so sensitive as Bianca, the good woman 
merely concluded that her " sposo" had heard some 
bad news abroad, which he would be sure to tell 
her by and by ; and as to that intelligence being 
anything which could very deeply aifect her, why, 
her whole world was contained within the four 
walls of her humble house ; her husband and 
children were secure as yet ; and it is a privilege 
possessed by such slow, short-sighted natures as the 
schoolmaster's wife that the largeness of evil which 
a higher type of woman can in a moment anticipate, 
never strikes them until actually presented. 

And so the good Cecca saw her husband's 



gloomy mood without a pang of that agonizing 
foreboding which would have rent Bianca's heart 
in like case. She stowed away the children in 
their crib early, from instinctive feeling that their 
frolic annoyed the father somehow ; and returning 
found him sitting in the same spot, but with his 
head laid on his arms upon the uncleared table 
where they had supped. 

" Amico mio, what aileth thee ?" 

Twice she repeated the little question ere reply 
came ; then he raised his face to look at her large, 
placid, ox-like eyes, as he said, "There's evil news 
abroad, Cecca : evil visitors come to our town, 
from whom the Lord alone can deliver us." 

" Why, what have we done?" she asked. 

"Done? Are we not Yaudois are we not 
* oltra-montani ?' That were enough for a fiery 
death, my wife." 

" The good Lord will care for us, caro sposo," 
was her quiet answer. " We ought not be afraid, 
under the protection of the good Lord. But who 
are the evil visitors of whom you speak ?" 

"Two Dominican monks, sent by the Cardinal 
Alexandrin, inquisitor-general, to suppress heresy 
in the Calabrias," he answered. "They have 
convened a great meeting of the inhabitants of our 



town for to-morrow, in the piazza, at noon, when, 
I suppose, we shall hear our fate/ 7 

"The good Lord will take care of us," repeated 
the placid woman ; yet e\ 7 en she had pressed her 
hand on her breast for an instant when she heard 
the dreaded word, " inquisitor/ 7 And she went 
about her household duties steadily as usual, with 
nothing in her outward appearance to testify that 
a dull pain had been planted at her heart; the 
man's eyes following her, for this evening his 
dear books were neglected, and he was calculating 

There he sat until his God raised him from that 
dreary mental occupation, and directed the troubled 
spirit to the fountain of comfort in his own word. 

"Bring the 'Yangelo, the gospel-book, Cecca," 
he said to his wife. And therewith he roused 
from his desponding recumbent posture to find 
such words as these : 

" Beati coloro che son perseguiti per cagione di 
giustizia: perciocche il regno de 7 cielo e loro." 
" Blessed are they which are persecuted for right- 
eousness 7 sake ; for theirs is the kingdom of 
heaven. 77 

" The kingdom of the heavens is theirs.' 7 The 
poor schoolmaster felt immediately lifted to the 


consciousness of the vastness of his life the life 
which through his Saviour had been given to his 
regenerate soul. No enemy could take from him 
the eternal happiness which Jesus had purchased, 
and the existence of unknown joys which awaited 
him, whenever it should please his Father to call 
him from this mortal life. But the little chil- 
dren ! With a great pang the thought of them 
came across his stout heart ; he grasped the book 
with a starting of the muscles in his hands with a 
far firmer grasp than was needful, and which left 
the fingers white from pressure. 

" Cecca mia, listen to what our most blessed 
Christ said : 

" ' Yoi sarete beati, quanclo gli uomini v'avranno 
vituperati, e perseguiti : e mentendo, avranno detto 
contr'a voi ogni mala parola per cagion mia. 7 

" 'Tis just what they have done/ 7 said the school- 
master, leaving his finger under the line : " they 
falsely have spoken evil words against us for 
Christ's sake. The priests and monks assert that 
we commit the most odious crimes when we meet 
together to worship God ; and the calumny is 
revived stronger than ever of late, since the dear 
pastor Paschali's preaching. But we are blessed 
when men revile and persecute us !" 


He read and mused long over the 'Vangelo that 
night, and the strength which God's words give in 
the hour of need visited his soul like cordial. 
Yet the children's crib almost unmanned the 
father again. For those beloved little ones on the 
morrow what? He remembered traditions, de- 
scended from the last generation, of fiendish perse- 
cutions in the valleys of Piedmont of " mother 
and infant hurled down the rocks," of children 
held aloft on transfixing spears. Such images 
haunted his sleep when he did sleep through one 
or two feverish hours to dawn. 

His was not the only restless head that night in 
San Sesto. The presence of those two ill-omened 
monks of St. Dominic had given the population 
of the town a nightmare. Longing for, and yet 
fearing, the light of the day which was to decide 
all, the worst would have been almost as bearable 
as the suspense. 

Hundreds of eyes scanned those monks' inscrut- 
able faces that forenoon in the piazza. The one, 
a portly, imperious-voiced man, whose coarse white 
woollen robe enveloped a massive figure ; the 
other, dark, pale, lithe but both with counte- 
nances impenetrable, at least to the hurried, anxious 
stare of the multitude who felt in their power. 


Very gentle was the speech of the lithe monk, 
yet signifying much : 

" Most dear friends, the Fra Valerio and myself 
have been sent hither by his Eminence the Car- 
dinal Alexandrin, of the Holy Congregation ; and 
we come in all love and good faith, not to hurt 
any person, but only to warn you, as deeply con- 
cerned for your prosperity and salvation, that you 
should desist from hearing any teachers of religion 
but those appointed by your ordinary the bishop. 
His Eminence has learned with sorrow that certain 
Lutherans have penetrated among you, and are 
seeking to undermine the foundations of your 
faith. Now if you dismiss these men, who have 
led you astray, and sought to draw you from the 
holy Roman Church into all manner of heresies, 
you shall do well. We are desirous to deal by you 
in love and peace ; therefore we invite all here 
present to the celebration of the holy sacrifice of 
the mass to-morrow morning, at the hour of matins, 
in the church of our Blessed Lady ; when we shall 
be enabled to distinguish the tares from the wheat 
and to act accordingly. And now we commend 
you to the guardianship of our Lady and the holy 
saints. Benedicite." 

The monk's prayer was stifled in a chorus of 


murmurs which arose from the crowd. But his 
brother Valerio stepped forward. In few and terse 
words he gave them to understand the alternative : 
recantation or loss of life and property. If they 
attended the mass, and comported themselves 
otherwise as good Catholics, no inquiry as to 
former conduct should endanger them; if they re- 
mained obstinate, they must expect the punishment 
of heretics. 

" And the convention the convention ! v The 
royally-ratified treaty, guaranteeing the rights of 
Vaudois settlers, was it so much waste paper? 
Could no security be drawn from long usage, 
long possession, from generations gone by under 
feudatories who obeyed their own and their fathers' 
promises and agreements sacredly ? Ah ! the In- 
quisition could ride roughshod over all. No 
power civil, military, or ecclesiastical could 
pretend to stay the hand of the terrible tribunal, or 
to ask it, " What doest thou ?" 

So the Dominican monks knew that the turbu- 
lence of the crowd was but vapouring : they waited, 
calmly confident, till the morrow's crisis. Brother 
Alfonso and Brother Valerio attended in the 
church of our Lady at the appointed hour : the 
bell rang for matins loud and long, the mass was 


begun, the mass was ended. Where were the con- 
gregation? Fra Yalerio swung his incense to 
comparatively empty benches ; the handful of 
Roman Catholics in San Sesto attended not one 

The elder Dominican's black eyes gleamed dan- 
gerously. His office and his embassy despised by 
these " oltra-montani !" Contemptuous silence and 
disobedience their only answer to persuasions and 
threatenings ! He would show them that he was 
not thus to be trifled with. He would send to the 
viceroy at Naples for troops, and compel these 
obstinate heretics to submit at sword's point. 

But lo ! when he came forth into the town, thus 
chafed, and lithe Brother Alfonso casting oil on the 
flame with his quiet words, the street was deserted. 
The house doors stood open into empty chambers. 
A great silence was everywhere. No clang of 
hammer or anvil, no ox-carts standing in the 
market-place, no busy stalls and shops, no voices 
of children at play in the shady loggias ; the place 
was as one depopulated. What has become of the 
inhabitants ? 

" Verily," quoth Fra Alfonso, with his sinister 
smile, " had we brought with us the plague, we 
could not be more shunned by the good people 


of San Sesto. Ecco ! there's an old man leaning 
on a staff. Follow and question him, my brother 
Giulio, that we may solve this mystery. Truly 
were the town all asleep or dead, 'twould scarcely 
be more silent." 

The aged Yaudois was brought forward and 
interrogated. It took not many questions to draw 
from him the fact that the inhabitants of San Sesto 
had in a body left their homes, their trades, their 
property, and withdrawn to the shelter of the 
neighbouring woods. 

Fra Valerie's countenance grew pale with rage. 

" And wherefore, old dotard," he shouted, " have 
they thus done? Let them not think to escape 
the Holy Office ; I will have troops from the vice- 
roy I will hunt them from their coverts." 

" Ay, thou art a worthy successor of Saint Dom- 
inic the persecutor !" replied the old man, un- 
dauntedly " he who massacred our forefathers 
in Provence, and lighted the piles of a thousand 
martyrs ! Yes, strike me down if thou wilt ; I 
have lived long enough my greatest hope is 
death !" 

" Have him away to the prison for insult to the 
representatives of the Holy Office !" ordered Fra 
Valerio, " and prepare a swift messenger to 


pies immediately. These heretics must be made 
an example of. We came in all peace and amity, 
willing them to be reconciled to the Church, and 
they have rejected mercy; nothing remains but 

" Yet I would suggest," said the younger monk, 
" that a bloodless victory would bring greater 
honour to our mission. I would try gentler mea- 
sures a while. I know they deserve severe punish- 
ment; yet may not a premature drawing of the 
sword defeat our ends ?" 

The inquisitors held conference together for 
some moments in low tones. Fra Alfonso's crafty 
countenance indicated some deep-laid scheme of 
astute policy, to which the other monk gradually 
assented as his wrath cooled. 

No more was heard of troops from the viceroy. 
In much milder mood Fra Valerio returned to his 
convent ; whence shortly after, he and his brother- 
inquisitor emerged, mounted mules at a postern 
gate, and accompanied by the guard of sbirri, took 

the road to La Guardia, twelve miles away. 



Cl LONG through the beautiful Calabrian valleys 
J passed the monkish cavalcade from San Sesto 
^j ^ to La Guardia, a distance of perhaps twelve 
miles. Central in the party were the two inquisi- 
tors, bestriding their apostolic mules, albeit that to 
Fra Alfonso's lean form and fiery eye a war-charger 
would have seemed the more suitable beast. Not 
alone to the sword spiritual did these worthy sons 
of the Church trust. A goodly escort of soldiers 
and sbirri accompanied them, for there was no 
knowing what these "oltra-montani" might at- 
tempt in their desperation. And portly Fra Vale- 
rio entered no strip of woodland nor gloomy gorge 
of the hills without certain uneasy sensations and 
an irrational desire to spur his peaceful mule. 

But they travelled without interruption till the 
broad blue sea lay stretched before them, and, like 
a cluster of shells on the shore, rose the gray- 
walled town of La Guardia at some distance. 
Straight toward the shimmering waters lay the 



road, now through open country, smiling with the 
cultivation of fields and vineyards. Fra Yalerio 
felt his valour wax strong again as he emerged 
from the perilous cincture of hills upon level lands, 
where white cottages lay scattered like sheep ready 
for slaughter. 

Entering La Guardia, immediately the gates 
were shut and soldiers posted beside them. What 
hostile movement was this ? The people flocked 
to the piazza, the centre of civic life, where, if any- 
where, they would learn the meaning of this 
alarming demonstration. The smooth-tongued 
brother Alfonso adjusted his white robe gracefully, 
and uttered falsehoods without a blush on his pale 
olive cheek. 

" Dear and faithful friends," he began, " we shall 
be compelled, much to our regret, to condemn you 
to death if you do not follow the example of your 
brethren at San Sesto. They have renounced their 
errors and returned to the bosom of the holy 
Church with true contrition. They have assisted 
at the most blessed sacrifice of the mass, received 
the most holy eucharist, and thereupon a plenary 
absolution has been granted them. The like 
course is open to you. You may follow the ex- 
ample of their dutiful conduct, and thereby con- 


suit your best interests and be partakers of their 
blessings. Be wise as they have been, most dear 
friends, for the Church hath yet open arms to re- 
ceive the penitent, while she hath a sharp sword 
for the offending." 

Now the people of La Guardia were simple folk, 
for the most part wholly unused to deceit and 
treachery. Had their brethren of San Scsto 
yielded? Then the sin could not be great of 
doing likewise. They had no time to deliberate: 
the bloody sword or the mass was offered ; the 
decision must be immediate. Who would not be 
scared by the alternative ? And as to questioning 
the truth of the inquisitor's plausible statement, 
their own native honesty disarmed them from 

So Fra Valerio and Fra Alfonso swung their 
censers, and performed their genuflexions, and 
adored their consecrated bread in presence of the 
population of La Guardia, who with unquiet 
consciences looked on and knelt when required, 
sullenly obedient and perplexed. 

Truly a great victory for the monks ! It never 
occurred to these worthy gentlemen that the de- 
luded Vaudois might prove recalcitrant on discov- 
ering the trick played on them. But next day 


there was a tumultuous gathering in the same 
market-place. The news of the steadfastness of 
San Sesto had reached their ears, filling them with 
shame and self-scorn. They would instantly leave 
their town with wives and children and go to join 
their brethren in the woods. The Marquis di 
Spinello, their feudatory superior, endeavoured to 
quell their excitement. He made the fairest prom- 
ises and representations. He would use his in- 
fluence with the viceroy that the San Sesto people 
should meet with no further persecution. Attend- 
ance at mass was a mere matter of form, which 
was valuable as securing them from the Inquisi- 
tion. They would not draw fire and sword on 
themselves by an inconsiderate zeal ! He who had 
imprisoned Paschali and D'Asceglio might seem a 
bad preacher of moderation. But it is a terrible 
thing by the heat of the moment to forfeit home 
and property, perhaps life. The very speech of 
the marquis, if only by its duration, helped to cool 
the audience. They hesitated from the boldness 
of their first resolve : they were prevailed on to 
wait the issue of events. 

The ardent and youthful spirits among them 
were ill satisfied with such cautious conduct. 
Some went off to join the San Sestans in their 


forest, in nowise anxious to avoid the hand-to 
hand-combat which seemed there inevitable. For 
soon the news spread that the Marquis di Spinello 
had promised more than he could perform. Two 
companies of soldiers had already been despatched 
by the monks to pursue and exterminate the fugi- 
tive Vaudois. 

Francesco Altieri was at supper with his wife 
and child in the vine-covered cottage before men- 
tioned, when the door was burst open suddenly, 
and a very tall man appeared in the entry. Bianca 
grasped her husband's arm convulsively, until the 
stranger spoke in familiar tones. 

" What, Samson !" said Francesco, half rising. 
"At this hour! News from La Guardia, my 
friend ?" 

" Ay, truly shameful and sorrowful news," an- 
swered the young man, coming forward and fling- 
ing his broad-leaved straw hat on the table. He 
narrated what has been told already in this chapter. 

" And thou art away to the woods ?" asked 

" Yes ; whither I counsel thee and thine also to 
retreat," replied the speaker, who for his colossal 
size and strength was surnamed by his acquaint- 
ances Samson. He rose from his seat. " I must 


depart now, and endeavour during the dark hours 
to find our brethren's hiding-place. I came simply 
to warn thee, my friend, that soldiers are abroad, 
led by devils in the shape of monks. Thinkest 
thou that should a score of them come upon thy 
cottage, and know it inhabited by a Yaudois, 
either justice or mercy would save thee? Verily, 
nay, for their delight is treachery and blood." 

He took the wide hat again in his hand : 

" Fly with me. I know the passes of the woods 
and glens better than thou " 

" What this night?" said Bianca, fearfully. 

" Nay," said her husband, " but we would do 
nothing rashly. We will ask God to guide us, ere 
we decide, anima inia ! I thank thee, Samson, for 
coming with the news, dark and grievous though 
it be. If thou wilt stay till the morning " 

But Sansom would not. Through the moonless 
midnight he sped him along, by unfrequented 
paths, into the deepest recesses of the Apennines 
skirted with forest. Here were defiles where a 
few might hold an army at bay ; and great fast- 
nesses of rock, which required only victualling to 
make them tenable as towers; and patches of 
pestilent marsh, over whose quaking surface now 
crept the wavering ignis fatuus. When some dis- 


tance into the depths of these solitudes, he began 
to feel a weariness stealing over him. He could 
stumble upon no trace of his exiled brethren any- 
where : the hooting of the owl, the chirping of the 
cicala, were the only sound of living thing. He 
would lay him down and rest till dawn. 

Accordingly he climbed to a shelf of rock a few 
yards from the rugged goat-path he had been pur- 
suing among the crags, and was presently fast 
asleep on its hard surface. Samson was not used 
to much luxury of soft pillows or coverlets in his 
simple Vaudois life : his strength rested as dream- 
lessly on the rock as on feathers. But as the 
morning light was breaking over the mountains, a 
dream visited the sleeper. He heard the baying 
of hounds he was pursued by them he fled 
precipitately his breath came quick his limbs 
failed their fangs were fastened in him ! Sam- 
son started up, cold drops on his brow. Little 
birds were singing morning songs in the boughs 
beneath. A stream was trickling in tiny cascade 
over the rock. But beyond and above these sounds 
came at intervals a distant baying of dogs : some 
hunters were abroad. 

And Samson smiled at the terrors of his dream. 
He returned thanks to his God for the repose 


which had refreshed him, and clambered down to 
the goatherd's path. The baying of hounds again ! 
but considerably nearer. He paused a moment. 
That was no ordinary baying. He listened for a 
repetition ; he recognized the deep mouth of the 

Then the fiends had brought dogs to track the 
wretched Yaudois ! But he had not a moment 
for indignation : flight was his only resource, and to 
endeavour to reach some inaccessible rock or to 
break the scent somehow. He bethought him of 
having heard that water would throw a hound off 
track : he sped through the trees to find the course 
of the little stream from whose tinkling cascade he 
had drank a few minutes previously. It lost itself 
in a marsh, as do most waters of the district. But 
central in the marsh was a rushy mere. Samson 
plunged through quagmire and slough and sedge, 
startling a flock of wild water-fowl, which rose with 
screams into the air, plunged into the stagnant 
lakelet, and gained the matted copse at the other 

He had escaped. But many and many a fugitive 
in those woods could not escape. Many and many 
a man and woman were seized, dragged down, 

hardly delivered from the cruel teeth of the blood- 


hounds into the crueller hands of the soldiery and 

Thus opened the campaign against the Vaudois, 
by the use of an expedient so barbarous as to be 
unknown in civilized warfare. But there was no 
law or usage which might not be wrested in 
favour of persecuting Lutherans all over Italy at 
that date. No treatment was too savage for them. 
The story of the Calabrese Vaudois is written in 
blood as miserable a story as ever historian 
penned. And details which we shudder only to 
hear were actually endured by men and women 
like ourselves, for no other offence than that they 
worshipped God as we do. 

The game of hunter and hunted went on bravely 
in these woods for some days : the hunters, well-fed 
soldiers in the livery of his Spanish majesty, ruler 
of Naples likewise ; and the hunted, humble, un- 
armed " oltra-montani," with their wives and little 
children. One might have thought that tameness 
in the quarry would blunt the edge of the hunter's 
gratification. But desperation makes even the 
timid doe turn to bay. How many unobserved 
and unrecorded martyrdoms dyed the moss and 
fallen leaves of those Calabrian forests none knows 
but He who has kept a record of them all. The 


woodland rang with the savage cry, " Amazzi ! 
amazzi !" " Kill them! kill them!" The inex- 
plicable fierce thirst for slaying which forms the 
delirium of battle, and makes some natures of kin 
with the tiger, possessed the Neapolitan soldiers. 
Our saintly Dominican monks meanwhile kept 
their white vestments without sensible blood-spot, 
but how crimson-dyed was the sin of their souls ! 
Perhaps they mildly censured the vehemence of 
such proceedings, yet the population of a province 
would rather have cumbered the dungeons of the 
Inquisition. Their myrmidons might have re- 
membered, however, that such is the tenderness of 
holy Church about shedding of blood that she 
favours the condemned with the stake instead of 
the sword. 



HREE men sat beside a watchfire built against 
a great gray crag on a mountain side. Large 
branches of cork trees fed the blaze, which 
sprang up merrily from time to time, licking the 
face of the rock aifectionately and crackling with 
energy and cheeriness. 

The features of the watchers reflected little 
more than the outside ruddiness of that buoyant 
flame. Surely that grave countenance, with more 
than one line of care on its youthful brow and a 
sorrowful droop in the curve of the lips, is not the 
face of our friend Francesco ? If so, a few days' 
racking anxiety and danger have oldened him by 
years. Well might it be, for all that he holds 
dearer than life is staked upon this desperate 
cast successful resistance by the unarmed to the 
armed. Bianca and her child are among the 
women in the central point of the Yaudois position, 
a wild glen higher up, whose sides have more than 
one cavern pierced therein. The man next Fran- 



cesco lias wife and babes also to think of; he is the 
schoolmaster of San Sesto. The tall figure of 
Samson paces to and fro as sentry at a little dis- 
tance, on a spot commanding the only path at that 
side of the mountain. 

They are rudely armed. Scythes and reaping- 
hooks, sharpened spades, a few rusty halberds and 
swords, a few rough pikes, hurriedly manufactured 
by the country smiths from any iron at hand, 
form the chief weapons among these poor Vaudois. 
They rely most on the ammunition of huge rocks, 
which they have gathered to certain exposed points, 
with intent to hurl down on the enemy. The 
goodness of their cause and the desperation of 
their circumstances are the grand armoury whence 
they gain nerve. A quality much needed, for 
they have heard a rumour that the Cardinal 
Alexandrin himself, the chief inquisitor, to whom 
was committed by his Holiness the conversion of 
Calabria, has arrived in their country from Naples, 
with fresh troops, temporal as well as spiritual ; 
and further, that his Highness the viceroy is has- 
tening after him, to bring all civil and military 
power to aid this Church's crusade. 

No wonder that the three countenances round 
the watchfire were gloomy. Thinking, forecasting, 


to men in their position, was a maddening process; 
yet every effort at conversation died away presently 
into silence. 

" My brothers, let us sing to the God of our 
salvation," said the schoolmaster, raising himself. 
"The Lord often hath sent good comfort on the 
wings of music and sweet words of praise. Christ 
is not dead, that he cannot hear or help: let us 
trust in him." And his voice, clear and distinct 
though tremulous with emotion, raised the prayer : 

"La croce e' 1 crocifisso 
Gia nel mio cor scolpito, 
Ed io sia sempre affisso 
In gloria ov egli e ito !" * 

" ' Sta con Gesu, cuor mio, 
E lascia ogn' uomo gridare ! 
Questo e il tuo dolce Dio!"'f 

The words of trust and aspiration which had 
comforted Savonarola in many a troubled hour 
were soothing to these watchers. They were able 

* We want the Cross and the crucified more deeply graven 
on our hearts. We want to realize that we have risen with 
him, and are ascended to his glory, with as great surety as if 
already there. 

f My heart, remain with Jesus, and leave all men to 
wrangle : He is thy gentle God. 

IN "THE TOPS." 471 

to join in full chorus with the last verse, which 


" Prendete tutti 1'arme 

Nernici d'ogni bene: 

Che pill non temo, e parrne 

Che dolci sian le pene."* 

" Yet," said the schoolmaster, breaking the swell 
of music, "the weapons of our warfare Are not 
carnal ! I would not use sword or spear against 
them : it is not lawful, as I before declared, for 
Christian men to defend themselves by bloodshed- 
ding. Ye see not with me, my brothers, nor can I 
expect that hot young hearts should; but the 
holiest of our forefathers in the valleys were of 
like opinion, that only in the last extremity should 
a Christian man fight " 

"And are we not now at the last extremity?" 
asked the third person in the group, a young 
armourer from La Guardia. "A fig for such timid 
policy! We are not bound to let ourselves be 
slaughtered like sheep by these ravening wolves, 
who thirst for the blood of the martyrs of 

"Then they that take the sword shall perish 

* Take therefore all your weapons, ye enemies of everything 
good! We fear you no longer; nay, rather, your enmity is 
welcome your cruelties are sweet! 


with the sword!" exclaimed the gentle-spirited 
schoolmaster. "Knowest them not what the Lord 
said? 'If any man smite thee on the left cheek, 
turn to him the other also/ Such was the spirit 
of our most blessed Master; and shall we, his 
servants " 

"Methinks, good neighbour," said the young 
armourer, hotly, "thou deemest thyself discoursing 
to a knot of boys in thy school, or perchance 
women in thy meeting-room, and not men whose 
hearts are a-fire with countless wrongs. How 
dare these accursed inquisitors come into our 
country and make desolate a thousand homesteads 
at a blow? How dare they threaten to take away 
our lives by the cruellest of deaths ; and not only 
ours, but the lives of harmless women and helpless 

"My brother," interposed the quiet voice of the 
elder man and in its tones was a touch of heart- 
break "have I not wife and children? Thou 
hast none. "Would I not lie down and die for 
them? Ay, truly; so it saved them from suffering, 
dying were but a small matter. My brother, I 
speak as conscience guides me, concerning the 
fighting; not from vain chimera or from coward- 
ice," he added, humbly. The other was softened : 

IN " THE TOPS." 473 

he grasped his hand and kissed it, in his impulsive 
Italian way. 

" I was wrong, father I was impetuous : for- 
give my wild words. But truly these are times 
that would madden the coolest judgment. How 
doth the Lord in heaven look on such iniquities 
arid flash not forth his lightning ?" 

"Because he knoweth the end from the begin- 
ning," was the reply. 

" It seems to me," said Francesco, who had been 
thoughtfully gazing at the burning brands, and 
from time to time replenishing the fuel, " that in 
making resistance to the inquisitors and their 
troops we shall only be discharging the duty of 
self-preservation: and further, that the guilt of 
blood will really lie upon the men who pursued us 
and forced us to draw the sword. Our just God 
knoweth that we fight not from wantonness nor 
foolhardiness, but simply to prevent the cruel 
slaying of those dear to us. I would that a 
further trial were made of negotiating : it seemeth 
to me impossible that all hearts in the king's 
troops are so steeled to mercy " 

" A better hope," observed the armourer, 
shrewdly, " lieth in the great strength of our 
position here, which must cost them many lives 


or a long blockade to force. Bernardin Conto and 
myself walked round about the crags at sunset this 
night ; wellnigh inaccessible in our eyrie : on but 
one side could any enemy, unless he had squirrels' 
feet, scale our defences." 

" The strength of the hills is his also," mur- 
mured the schoolmaster. " And their defence 
shall be the munitions of rocks : bread shall be 
given them their waters shall be sure." 

" But I would that further negotiation were 
tried," Francesco said, rising and moving apart to 
think over his idea. A few yards away, and he 
stood on the edge of a sheer precipice rising from 
dense woods. A whisper of numberless leaves 
came up to his ears as the night wind stirred 
among the matted boughs a hundred feet below. 
Far off, in an opening between dark hills, streaks 
of silver amid dappled pearl showed where the 
moon would rise presently. No sign of enemy in 
all the noiseless land could he see, but he had 
learned to be campaigner enough, during his service 
with the Duke of Ferrara's forces, to know that 
such non-appearance was deceitful. He had a 
suspicion that every break and copse concealed a 
foe that the glens could in a moment glisten with 
hostile halberds. His spirit groaned to think of 

IN "THE TOPS." 475 

the inequality of the strife : simplicity of peasants 
and artisans matched against all the arts and du- 
plicities of war ; rude weapons manufactured from 
husbandry implements to contend w r ith the well- 
appointed soldiers of Spain. 

Then before his memory arose an unequal con- 
test between a Philistine giant and a shepherd's 
boy in Palestine long ago. " Thou comest to me 
with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield ; 
but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of 
hosts, the God whom thou hast defied !" 

Francesco looked back to the watchfire burning 
against the crag, and forcibly it reminded him of 
the emblem of the Yaudois Church, a lighted 
torch amid darkness, bearing for motto, " Lux 
lucet in tenebris." 

" Thou wilt not suffer the spark of thy truth to 
be trampled into darkness, O Lord." And gradu- 
ally the conviction strengthened upon him that 
however Christ's cause might for a while be crushed 
in this spot of Calabria and Francesco had little 
hopes that matters could end otherwise God's 
truth must run and be glorified over the whole 
earth, and prosper to the purpose for which he 
sent it. 

Suddenly, from the very edge of the precipice, 


a man slowly raised himself and whispered, 

Francesco recoiled a pace. " Hist !" repeated 
the other, raising his hand as a warning sign ; the 
new moonbeams fell full on his crouching figure. 
" I would speak with thee alarm not thy guard, 
for I am unarmed, see !" 

"And what dost thou want with me?" asked 
the young physician, half inclined to collar and 
drag him to the fire. Some faint memories were 
moved by the voice and the gesture, he could not 
tell what : his curiosity was roused. 

" I have been seeking to speak with thee these 
three days past," said the stranger, " for I would 
do thee a service in this perilous time for thee and 
thine. I would show thee the securest hiding- 
place in all the Apennines " 

" Come, my friend," said Altieri, incredulously ; 
" if thou'rt not able to give some better account of 
thyself than this, I must seize thee as a spy. Why 
shouldst thou seek to befriend me ?" 

" Because I remember the common prison of 
Locarno," was the only answer. It set swimming 
in the young physician's brain a variety of faces 
there seen. " And what of the common prison of 
Locarno?" he asked, in some slight bewilderment. 

IN " THE TOPS." 477 

" A wounded brigand " It all flashed on Fran- 
cesco's memory in a moment. " But the wound is 
quite healed years ago, signor: thanks to thy 
bandaging, from that day 'twas better. And I 
made a vow to my patron saint, that could I meet 
the man to whom I did insult before he did me 
kindness. I would repay as I could " 

"Thanks, my friend. Where is the hiding- 
place thou speakest of?'' 

" Not far from here a cavern ; wife and child 
could shelter in it ; it has been my lair for months 
when I wanted no man to know whence I came. 
It is in the face of a cliff, with trees across the 
mouth a most secure hiding-place as ever bandits 
roosted in." 

He was still at the old trade, this brigand, and 
had been one of a gang among the numerous gangs 
which infested the mountain-passes, and defied all 
the civic power of his Neapolitan majesty ; but as 
they merely robbed travellers, and murdered them 
occasionally, the Church never bestirred herself 
against outlaws who regularly muttered prayers at 
every shrine they came across. 

" And, signor, I have somewhat to tell thee of 
danger. A proclamation has been issued, as I am 
told, offering pardon to all of us to all the ban- 


ditti in Naples if they will help to exterminate 
the heretics ; and you ' oltra-montani ? were never 
regularly hunted down till that were done, if it 
be done. The banditti know every pass and secret 
path in your mountains ; they can guide troops to 
the securest lurking-places." 

Considerable alarm was wakened in Francesco's 
mind by this intelligence. Such human blood- 
hounds were infinitely more dangerous than the 
trained sleuth-dogs which had been ranging the 

" And sayest thou that no man knows of this 
cavern ?" said he, grasping at the hope of absolute 
secresy for his dear Bianca and her little Cosmo. 
" Well, my watch ends at dawn ; I may not leave 
my post till then." 

"Signer, I can wait;' 7 and he rolled himself 
into a shadow of rocks and bushes, earthing 
himself so well that when Francesco returned 
to the place as the first rosy streaks painted the 
east, he could see no trace of him, until, with a 
low, hissing laugh, the robber crept from the 

(i I was sleeping, signor, but the step of a hare 
would rouse rne. In half an hour hence you had 
been too late to see the cavern this morning ; for 

IN "THE TOPS." 479 

though the secretest place in all the Apennines 
when once you're in it, the entrance is about the 
most public ;" and he chuckled through his black 
bristling beard. " The signorina will be quite safe 
there, amico mio : fear not." 



S that morning's sun raised his round red disk 
above the edge of the world, and his light 
caught on the tops of the serrated crags, fling- 
ing long shadows behind and across the rifts and 
patches of table-rock where the fugitive Yaudois 
nested, he looked right into a deep ascending ra- 
vine stretching east and west, wherein men were 
busy throwing up an entrenchment. This was the 
one accessible point of the position, and the way 
by which it was known the troops would advance 
to the attack. All the simple engineering skill of 
the Vaudois was exerted to make the passage diffi- 
cult. A barricade of trees was thrown across. 
Piles of stones were heaped along the tops of the 
precipices at each side, to be flung down on the 
invaders. And then, having done all in human 
power to prepare for defence, they committed their 
cause to their God. 

Bareheaded knelt the mass of fugitives gilded 
by the early sunlight, as, one after another, the 



leading men arose and prayed. What prayer was 
that ! What a pressing to the foot of the divine 
throne ! what a wrestling with divine strength ! 
what a cleaving to the arm of Omnipotence ! No 
lukewarm feelings, no half-hearted words there. 
Tears poured down many a firm face unused to 
such trickling. The tremendous issues involved 
in the approaching contest the all at stake, and 
veriest weakness to protect what was most precious 
little wonder that they had an agony of prayer, 
and could scarce be silent. Intense "Amens" 
burst from a hundred lips at each clause of a pe- 
tition ; and many, prostrate upon their faces, re- 
peated again and again the prayer which had just 
left the lips of the spokesman with irrepressible 
moans of longing. 

And while yet kneeling before their God, under 
his own canopy of heaven, a scout appeared upon 
the crags near by. A message was brought to the 
leading men. All knew what it meant ere the 
words went round that the troops were in sight, 
marching up the defile toward the entrenchment. 

The well-armed, well-trained veteran soldiers, 
who had faced many a storm of battle, despised 
these puny Vaudois adversaries with their wretched 
scythe-blades and plough-coulters and rusty ances- 



tral rapiers. Hitherto the contest had been nothing 
but a secure running down of game, as it were. 
They anticipated nothing more now, save perhaps 
such slight resistance as should add piquancy to 
the sport. But deeper they wound into the defile, 
and closer darkened the sides precipitously to- 
gether : it was becoming an ugly-looking place to 
get entangled in. The captain called the peasant 
who acted as guide, and interrogated him. Was 
this the only avenue to the heretics' lair? Then 
they had more knowing heads among them than 
he fancied. Never mind : the conquest would be 
the completer ; the wilderness had shut them in ; 
none could escape : at one blow Calabria would 
lose all her heresy, and he, the captain, would be 
covered with immortal honour. 

So the troops advanced until they came in sight 
of the barricade. It had been erected at the nar- 
rowest part of the pass, and the gulley in front 
was commanded by a double pile of rocks and of 
desperate men to hurl them down. A hesitation 
entered the captain's mind, though his apparent 
advance was sturdy as before. The place was ugly 
there was no doubt of that. It could be made 
a Thermopylae, but the gallant capitano d'infan- 
teria had never heard of that celebrated pass, and 


so did not institute comparisons. But the thought 
did flash into his military mind that here could a 
few resolute men stop an army ; yet it was so 
improbable that these untutored peasants and 
tradesmen would know how to organize a success- 
ful defence. 

" Like their own wild goats," reflected il capi- 
tano, "which look boldly at one from the brow 
of the precipice before starting off in flight." 

He took it as a symptom of the approaching 
flight when a man appeared on the nearest crag, 
waving some white cloth as a flag of truce. 

" The varlets ! A proper answer would to be 
shoot him as he stands," observed the leader to the 
officer next him. " Nevertheless, to gain time 
for I believe not but there must be some safer 
access than this to their position, and if so, yon 
guide shall swing from the nearest cork tree 
to gain time while we send to examine, shall we 
hear what the wretches have to say ?" 

" Perhaps it is to negotiate a surrender," re- 
marked the other. 

For a few moments such might be thought. 
The envoy was not one skilled in diplomatic arts, 
nor did he remember how thoroughly steeled to all 
merciful considerations were the men whom he 


addressed, when he began by entreating them to 
have pity on the helpless woman and children, and 
not hunt down to death the unoffending. As well 
might he have pleaded with the mountain vulture 
to spare the lamb because it was helpless. Had 
the prey not been helpless, neither vulture nor 
trooper would dare swoop upon it. 

" A truce to this folly," called the captain. 
" Surrender thyself and thy fellows, and leave his 
Highness the viceroy to deal as he will with con- 
victed rebels." 

" But we are no rebels, may it please your Excel- 
lency," answered the Yaudois. " We only ask to 
enjoy our common rights as men. We only want 
our lives and our lands secured to us, as they have 
been by treaty from time immemorial. Our fore- 
fathers inhabited this country of Calabria for ages, 
and gave no person cause of complaint by their 
conduct " 

" Come, come," said il capitano, impatiently ; 
" we cannot listen to thy harangues all day. Will 
ye surrender, or not ?" 

" If your Excellency meaneth by ' surrender 7 our 
yielding ourselves and our little ones to the edge 
of the sword, such we will not do while God gives 
us strength to defend the weak," proclaimed the 


Vaudois spokesman, undauntedly. " But if our 
adversaries are resolved not to leave us in this land 
of Calabria any longer unless we basely renounce 
our faith, we trust that the king's clemency will 
allow us to withdraw to some other country, where 
we can worship God as our consciences direct. 
We will go, by sea or by land, to any place which 
our superiors are pleased to appoint, and we will 
promise never to return." 

The captain would not listen to the proposition, 
which it had cost the poor Vaudois so much to 
make in good faith : he would not even report it 
to his superior officer, or suspend operations till 
a messenger could be sent to the viceroy. He 
knew the temper of his master too well, perhaps ! 

" And we will take no property with us ; we 
will give up all but a bare support during the 
journey ; thy soldiers shall not be balked of their 
plunder," pleaded the flag of truce, with pitiable 

" There is no peace to be held with heretics/' 
was the captain's answer. " If ye be reconciled to 
the Holy Church" 

"That is the one thing we cannot do, your 
Excellency knoweth ; we can never forswear our 
faith. But should we be driven now to extremi- 


ties, your Excellency perhaps can guess the 
strength that lieth in desperate men." 

" What ho ! do ye threaten ? Sound the ad- 
vance there, trumpeter ! We shall teach these 
heretics a lesson." 

And as the companies of half-mailed infantry 
marched forward, they caught a glimpse of a 
strange sight. Down upon their knees had fallen 
the Vaudois. To suplicate mercy from the relent- 
less ? no ; but to cry to the strong God for 
strength in this terrible hour. Entreaty had failed, 
effort at capitulation had failed, and they were 
thrown upon the last resource hand and sword. 

The infantry rushed on with shrill outcries and 
blasts of horns, drowning the momentary prayer. 
Their foremost files were almost at the barricade, 
when, thundering into their midst, plunged huge 
boulders from the precipices, crushing all they 
touched. Twenty picked men of the heretics 
dashed among them to take advantage of the con- 
fusion. A fearful hand-to-hand struggle succeeded, 
and all the while these unassailable enemies on 
the heights rolled great stones down, without 
aim, or need for it, prostrating some foe with 
every fragment of rock. The defile was choked 
with struggling soldiers ; and the few who could 


get away were glad to retreat from such inglorious 

They could hear as, abashed and confounded, a 
mere handful of the two companies of invaders 
gathered themselves out that fatal ravine they 
could hear already rising from the hills the songs 
of thanksgiving with which the heretics celebrated 
their victory. Tears of joy were no rare tribute 
of gratitude that morning. The women, who had 
cowered in their glens and caverns during the 
strife, listening fearfully for every sound, or some 
on their knees, hiding their heads and smothering 
their ears from the terrible distant clamour, came 
forth to welcome their deliverers, husbands, sons, 
brothers, who had repulsed the foe. What meet- 
ings ! what embraces ! what happiness ! too heart- 
felt for laughter, and nearer akin to weeping. 

The success purchased at least a temporary 
respite. Our discomfited captain of infantry re- 
turned to his masters the monks with a very dif- 
ferent tale from what they had expected momen- 
tarily to hear. Fra Yalerio was considerably 
frightened. Though within a fortified castle, with 
portcullis down, he expected every hour to hear 
the battle-cry of the avenging Vaudois without. 
He wished himself well out of the cursed country. 


He vowed all sorts of severest punishments on the 
heretics who had dared defend themselves. But 
Fra Alfonso's far-seeing eyes glittered with an 
unpleasant light. Never were the Vaudois so 
sure of extermination as now : they were not only 
heretics to holy Church, but rebels to the king. 
He sat down and wrote a letter to Naples, setting 
forth and magnifying the repulse of the royal 
troops. He sent this missive by a courier, and 
tranquilly awaited the result. Meanwhile Fra 
Valerio tried the cajoling system. He put forth 
papers full of brotherly kindness and charity. 
His roaring was gentle as the voice of a dove. 
He lamented pitifully over the deplorable con- 
tumacy of his dearly beloved sons, the Vaudois of 
Calabria. He invited them even yet to return to 
the open arms of their most affectionate mother the 
Church, who longed to pour forth her compassions 
upon these poor prodigals. Certain credulous people 
were found to believe him, and fell into the snare 
thus baited: they were quietly lodged in prison 
until such time as the inquisitors should be at 
leisure to look up their victims. 

The discerning among the band of Vaudois on 
the mountains well knew that this lull was but the 
prelude to a terrible tempest. They spent the 


pause wisely in trying to fortify and provision 
their retreat ; for they likewise knew that no mercy 
was to be had hy submission, and that their sole 
chance of quarter lay in a desperate defence. 



|T was one morning at this time, before the 
mists of night had cleared from the water- 
courses of the valleys, that Francesco Altieri 
approached his cottage home in company with the 
brigand who had so unexpectedly befriended him. 
He thought of bringing certain things from it to 
make less bare the cavern where Bianca and her 
child were to find refuge at the last extremity 
some covering for the straw and boughs which had 
formed the robber's lair some stores of food. 
They emerged from the dense cork woods, crossed 
the last strip of morass and entered cultivated 
lands. As the dawn-light increased, they saw the 
features of the country more plainly. The fields 
had a strange look. Green and flourishing a few 
days before, when Francesco paid his last visit 
to the vine-covered cottage, they seemed now 
trampled and torn up. Closer inspection showed 
that some destroyers had been there, ruining the 
crops of the year. The land was as if a whirlwind 



had dashed across it, prostrating every plant and 
tree. The maize was lying in matted masses, the 
vines were rooted up, the mulberry trees were cut 
down. Even the brigand gnashed his great teeth 
together and muttered a curse on the savage 

" 'Tis fit for Turks and Pagans ; 'tis no Christian 
warfare !" said he, little aware that a first principle 
of Mohammedan war-making is, that no tree use- 
ful to man, and no herb of the field yielding food, 
shall be destroyed by the soldiers of the Crescent. 
But in the sixteenth century the Turks were yet a 
chronic terror to Christendom, and everything par- 
ticularly evil and brutal was laid to their charge. 
"And here's a farm-house smoking, burnt yester- 
day, I suppose; perhaps the owners within it, for 
that would be a mere peccadiglio, and just an- 
ticipate the roasting they would get from their Ex- 
cellencies the inquisitors. As well have it over 
sooner as later. I hope they haven't laid hands on 
your pretty nest, signor." 

"It is very unlikely that they have spared it," 
was the reply, as Francesco tried to steel his heart 
for what he might see. Alas ! no white walls 
gleaming through green leaves met his view, when 
he came hurrying along to the first point of sight, 


but a blackened ruin, from one corner of which a 
faint smoke curled up into the early light. 

Yes, the pretty, peaceful homestead was utterly 
destroyed. Francesco gasped for breath as he 
gazed on the ruthless ruin. The walls of the little 
enclosure were beaten down, every plant rooted up, 
the vines cut off close to the earth, the fruit-trees 
wounded half across their trunks, so that already 
their tops were dying. The household furniture 
was all burnt ; only charred sticks remained pro- 
truding from the crushed wreck of a roof, all a 
complete ruin. 

"Come, come, signor, bear up!" said the brigand 
in his rough friendly way, when he saw the young 
physician bury his face in his hands with uncon- 
trollable emotions. " The best part of the home 
is left you yet in the signorina and the little one. 
Thank the saints you were not all in it yester 
morn when this havoc was done, for they are folk 
who would only relish such a centre to their fire. 
Come to the spring, signor, and drink ; 'twill re- 
fresh you." 

But the spring was choked, the basin was filled 
up. " Like them," exclaimed the brigand. "And 
these devils hunt us, who never thought of such 
wickedness in our lives. Ma coragio, signor ! 


You and I will see better days, may it please the 
blessed saints." 

When poor Francesco came to himself, and could 
reflect on what were best to be done, which truly 
in this bewilderment were a hard matter, he gave 
a few of his remaining crowns to his companion, 
that he might buy in the nearest village some 
needful comforts for Bianca and the child. Oif 
marched the brigand, and left Francesco alone in 
his ruined home. 

Never more could it be a home, that was certain, 
for one might more easily construct house and 
garden from the wilderness than rebuild and re- 
plant what the destroyers had desolated. A sur- 
prising ingenuity of mischief had in an hour laid 
waste the industry of years. And something more 
than vines and fruit trees had been rooted up for 
Francesco : all the sweet associations of home, all 
the tendrils which human hearts wind about 
familiar objects, were torn asunder utterly. 

Perhaps this ruin was a providential teaching as 
to his future course. He must turn his mind now 
to another wandering in search of a home; all 
hope connected with this one died out as he ex- 
amined the smouldering wreck. He knew that 
since God had ceased speaking to men with audible 


voice, he directs his servants by events, wherein is 
to be found the "promised guidance with the eye" 
for those who look at all things, great or small, as 
the expression of divine will. 

Francesco began to resolve plans for escape from 
the country. His patrimony was buried in these 
blasted fields, but it must go. Was not "the life 
more than meat?" A vessel from the coast was 
the most feasible means of departure. Bianca and 
the child could travel in no other way. While yet 
cogitating, a step ascending the hill attracted his 
attention, and he recognized the peaked hat of the 
brigand with some surprise. 

" Why, my friend, you must have flown," he 
said, going to meet him : " you've surely not been 
to the town since ?" 

" I've been far enough," was the dubious answer, 
as he lifted off the slouched hat to cool his brow. 
" I've been to Chigi's masseria, and heard news 
enow for one day, I'll warrant, and a fine opportu- 
nity of making my fortune into the bargain." 

" How what mean you ?" 

" I've but to go across to Cosenza, and offer his 
Highness the viceroy my services to guide his 
troops to the Vaudois fastnesses hey presto, my 
fortune's made." 


" What ! has the viceroy come into Calabria ?" 

" Ay, has he, with a whole army, and has de- 
livered up San Sesto already to fire and sword. 
And the proclamation to the banditti is really out 
at last free pardon to everybody, no matter how 
bad, if he'll only help against the heretics. You 
see it's not near so unpardonable to murder a man 
as to refuse to go to mass, signer." 

His eye was caught by something moving on the 
plain far off. He pointed his finger: "Ecco! i 

His quick sight had recognized the uniform at 
such great distance. They were clustering about a 
masseria, or farm-house. " If we look long enough, 
we shall see smoke presently," predicted the bri- 
gand. " They leave fire-marks after them like the 
evil one." And so it was. 

" The mountains will be overrun immediately," 
he added, " by these banditti, who know every re- 
cess. Birds of the air could not escape. Take my 
advice, signor, and lodge la signora and her little 
one in the den I showed you. There's no other 
safety for them." 

Francesco returned through the woods and 
marshes empty-handed and with a heavy heart. 

He found his wife in some alarm at the threat- 


ened illness of her little child, who lay on her 
knees in an unquiet sleep, his dark curls tossed 
back from a burning forehead. A slight infantine 
fever, the father thought. " Lay him aside, for a 
moment, dear Bianca, and come with me." She 
knew that she would not be asked to lay by her 
little Cosmo without urgent reason. The brigand 
opened his great smirched arms for the load, and 
she trusted him. Woman and babe can touch the 
roughest hearts, and Sanga was harder by trade 
than by nature. 

She could read the troublous news in her hus- 
band's eyes even before he spoke. "Bene mio, 
some evil has befallen ; yet not such as we cannot 
bear while we are left to one another, Francesco." 

He told her in few words ; and she bravely sup- 
pressed the pang of the destruction of their pleas- 
ant home, till he thought the misfortune much the 
lighter for the manner in which she bore it. " I 
am ready to do what you think fit, Francesco," 
when he suggested their withdrawal to the place of 
concealment offered by Sanga. " Yet, oh my hus- 
band, can we trust him so implicitly?" 

"You have already trusted him with something 
far more precious than yourself, little heart," ob- 
served Francesco, smiling down to her face. " After 


laying Cosrno in his arms, 'tis not for thee to talk 
of want of confidence!" 

The mass of fugitives collected in the glen had 
melted away from various causes. Some were try- 
ing to steal out of the country by land or sea 
during the interim of quietness. Many had taken 
their families to securer retreats in the mountains, 
where they had collected some small store of pro- 
visions, and trusted to hide till the storm blew 
over. All thought of combined defence, which 
might have effected some compromise, was at an 
end ; the doomed people were scattered abroad 
sheep without a shepherd. 

A slaughter in detail commenced. The viceroy 
lay inactive with the chief body of his troops when 
he saw that his opportune proclamation to all free- 
booters, outlaws and criminals was likely to do 
the business of extermination quietly yet surely, 
and save him the trouble. Singly and in families, 
according as they were discovered, the Vaudois 
perished by the sword, while the benevolent in- 
quisitors were shocked at the stories of wholesale 
assassination which they heard, and *vould have 
murder perpetrated more orthodoxly by dungeon, 
rack and fagot. Fra Valeric and Fra Alfonso, to 



whose council was now added the chief inquisitor 
Panza, withdrew their merciful selves from the 
neighbourhood of the war. Military execution 
was too severe to find favour in their eyes, but 
the bloodiest rapier was mercy compared with 
their designs. 

The whole district smoked with fires and 
streamed with slaughter. Those heretics who 
gave themselves up in despair were reserved for 
the after repast. The inquisitors published a de- 
cree full of soft promises, summoning the people 
of La Guardia to assemble before them. Our un- 
wary Vaudois, slow to learn the fathomless du- 
plicity of monkhood, gathered in the market- 
place of the town to the number of seventy. Sol- 
diers immediately issued from all the avenues and 
buildings round and took them prisoners, chained 
them and led them to Montalto for safe-keeping. 
This was the last great haul made by mother 
Church. She had now sixteen hundred heretic 
wretches in her hands to be treated as she list; 
and cruel was her pleasure. 

Sixteen hundred inoffensive, well-behaved men 
and women^ concerning whose conduct no accu- 
sation could be brought persons who are repre- 
sented by the testimony even of foes to have been 


noted for indefatigable industry, orderly conduct, 
good manners, social truth and happiness sixteen 
hundred of such, doomed to suffering and to death, 
because of their faith in Christ as the only Saviour ! 
Never had the noble army of martyrs a nobler 
addition to its celestial ranks than day by day 
ascended from the torture-chambers, the reeking 
woods and bloodstained caverns of Calabria dur- 
ing that dreary autumn and winter of 1560. 

The brigand Sanga would bring tidings of such 
things going on in the outer world to Altieri and 
his wife shut up in their hiding-place among the 
rocks. The man was strangely faithful to these 
helpless ones. 

He sought remedies for the child's ailment, even 
at personal risk ; and thus, when Vaudois babes 
were perishing on all sides by sword and famine 
in ways too horrible for narration sometimes, Bi- 
anca saw nothing of these murders. Her husband 
was careful lest she should even hear revolting 
details. So in her ignorance she would murmur 
occasionally at the perpetual shutting up in the 
cave; it was injuring the health of little Cosmo: 
he pined for full light and fresh air, like a flower 
transplanted from the mountain-side into a vault. 


He would run, whenever he found himself free in 
the intervals of fever, toward the pale green twi- 
light which entered at the opening through 
branches of underwood ; but outside was a pre- 
cipice sheer for so many feet down that his mother 
hurried after him in terror; and the disappointed 
little creature would lay his curly head on her 
knees and cry bitterly. Francesco could see that 
daily the bright eyes were growing dimmer, and the 
little cheek becoming paler and less round, the 
little pulse more feeble and fluttering; and the ap- 
prehension slowly augmented into a certainty that 
the Good Shepherd was removing their darling gen- 
tly from them to the green pastures and still waters 
of a fair world where there is no strife in which 
lambs are stifled. Yet he spoke not of this truth 
to the mother, lest in her wild grief she should 
chafe against the insurmountable. And how gen- 
tle was this dealing to the agonies of other Lu- 
theran mothers in that black year ! 

One Glencoe in the history of England remains 
a foul stain for ever ; but in these Calabrian val- 
leys and villages, Glencoe was repeated, fore-acted 
a hundred times with aggravation of treachery and 
cruelty. Scarce can our refined ears bear to hear 
what these noble confessors of the faith endured. 


A Romish historian writes : " Some had their 
throats cut, others were sawn across the middle, 
others thrown from the top of a high cliff; all 
were cruelly put to death. It was strange to hear 
of their obstinacy ; for while the father saw his son 
put to death, and the son his father, they not only 
showed no symptoms of grief, but said joyfully 
that they would be as the angels of God." 



d SCORCHING noontide lay upon all Cala- 
11 bria. Even the tops of the gray-green Apen- 
<7j ^ nines rose bare and sharp into the blue air, 
there being in the whole skies no cloud for them to 
transfix and hold charmed upon their summits. 
The brigand Sanga climbed a peak somewhat out 
of his pathway, and could see across the level land 
to the horizon of sea. How changed the prospect 
since a few weeks ! The trail of the destroyer de- 
faced all that was human. For white farm-houses 
were blackened heaps ; for tilled fields, withered 
patches of blight ; for vineyards and olive-yards, 
confused brown dead herbage and foliage. A blast 
had passed over the country a blast more desolat- 
ing than the sirocco, for man's malignity to man 
had guided it. 

"And they were a peaceful, happy people/' 
mused Sanga, as he gazed. " They were mild, and 
sober, and faithful above most men. No crimes 
were heard of here but what were done against 



them, not by them. Only for me, and such as me, 
the district had been spotless. See this very pair, 
the young leech and his wife, that are hiding in my 
den, how good are they! They talk of a forgive- 
ness toward their worst enemies ; and when I have 
marvelled that their country-people did not unite, 
and at least sell their lives as dearly as possible 
nay, but revenge and bloodshed are forbidden by 
the most blessed Christ. . Nay, but the signora 
would forgive even those who burned her pretty 
house to the ground ! And how wondrously 
they die, these Yaudois ! That gray-haired elder, 
whose body was smeared with sulphur and resin 
before he was committed to the fire yesterday, how 
bravely he endured it! What fiends these holy 
inquisitors are, to be sure !" 

He turned to descend the peak on the other side. 
A few yards downward, and his attention was 
arrested by a growling proceeding from the rocks 
on his left. Picking his poniard from his belt, 
he advanced toward the noise, and found himself 
opposite the entrance to a cave which was partially 
concealed by a huge jutting boulder. Entering 
cautiously and sidelong, that he might not inter- 
cept the light, he saw some object, a man perhaps, 
lying on the ground, and a great dog standing 


over him. The animal flew forward furiously, and 
then Sanga perceived that his fangs and mouth were 
bloody. He struck at him with the dagger, and 
the beast fled howling away out of the cave down 
the hill. 

Just as he had died lay the corpse of the Vau- 
dois an aged man, as the white hair testified. 
Hand and arm were torn by the brute which had 
discovered the carrion ; not indeed that much could 
be picked from the poor bones, for manifestly he 
had perished from starvation. And yet "Pre- 
cious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his 

" Pah !" said the brigand with a shudder, " but he 
has 'scaped the burnings and butcherings only by 
the same road, after all. I suppose there will be 
many lost this way by starvation in the caves. 
Poor souls ! the whole world is against them; they'd 
best leave it as quickly as they can/' 

He went out of the cave to reconnoitre, and re- 
turned presently. The mountain lakelet was near 
enough, as he imagined ; he partly drew, partly 
carried, the body to the precipitous edge and cast it 
into the deep dark water. 

" There ! 'tis the only burial I had for thee. 
poveretto ; 'tis better than that savage dog's maw, 


at all events ; and if thy soul's home is with the 
blessed God, what matters it? I wonder/' and 
his eye glanced upward from its shaggy brow, 
"which are wrong mother Church or thee? and 
without doubt these Vaudois lead rare lives." 

A quarter of an hour afterward he turned into 
the narrow glen which was the covered way to his 
friends' retreat. Great boulders leaned their mas- 
sive gray sides on emerald turf, and a rivulet ran 
from a sullen black tarn buried in precipices at the 
upper end. Now just at the commencement of the 
tarn one of these huge boulders rose abruptly ; 
the robber mounted it by a path at the back. 
When he walked to the edge nearest the mural 
precipice, a space of nine or ten feet separated it 
from a narrow ledge, on which, somewhat farther, 
underwood had rooted. Sanga jumped the space 
with slight effort ; a false step would have flung 
him into the water, producing a bath which would 
have troubled him no longer than the necessity for 
drying; but he made no such mistake. He went 
for a few yards along the ledge, which indeed was 
exceedingly narrow, and presently raising the 
trailing bushes, stooped into the cave. 

"Buon dia vosignoria," he said, seeing Fran- 
cesco first in the dim twilight. " I bring good news 


che bella nuovita ! There's a ship on the 

But the absence of response to his salutation, 
the unusual stillness, checked his garrulous tongue 
from even " la bella nuovita." The father moved 
a pace aside, and then Sanga saw that little 
Cosmo, the cherished child, had died. 

Bianca was tearless now. Her grief had ex- 
hausted itself in violence during the first hours of 
bereavement; when the little flower of her life had 
finally drooped its head, and breathed away the last 
sigh, " He has God's light and heaven's own air 
now, bene mio !" she said to her husband ; that 
was the first glimpse of comfort. " I would not 
call him back to this cavern. No, he nestles in the 
arms of the beloved Jesus !" 

But when the little clay treasure had to be laid 
in the hole dug in the earthen floor of the cave, and 
to be covered up from her sight for evermore, 
the moment was more bitter than mortal mother 
could bear. She flung herself passionately on the 
baby form which she had loved so intensely : she 
wreathed that icy coldness with arms which seemed 
as though they never would untwine. 

" La signorina should thank the good God that 
he died without pain," observed the brigand, 


standing by. "/have seen infants writhing upon 
pike-points before their mothers' eyes." 

The words recalled her to self-control. " Let 
me lay him down, myself/ 7 she pleaded ; " I have 
always folded him to sleep :" so, with her poor 
eyes streaming, she composed the little limbs and 
crossed the limp, dimpled hands, and placed a 
coverlet above : the father laid green leaves upon 
it before he gently turned in the earth. And thus 
was the little Cosmo hidden from the evil to come. 

And, kneeling by the sacred spot, Francesco 
poured forth his soul in prayer to his God. How 
near seemed the heaven which that sweet babe had 
entered ! how real the everlasting Arms which en- 
folded little children ! The brigand, standing by, 
and crossing himself and kissing his relic at 
intervals, heard his own eternal weal pleaded for 
with the Most High fervently, as for a deeply 
desired request. What was the new life they 
wanted for him ? Some of their mystic heresies, he 
thought; but they were very good people, not- 
withstanding ; they lived like saints, whatever they 

" And now, signer," quoth Sanga, by and by, 
" there's no time to lose. The next fair wind and 
the felucca's off to sea. And believe me, the death 


of the child is not such a bad thing for you both 
nay, signorina mia, look not so angrily, for I 
would have kept ' il poverino' living if I could 
but you can escape so much more easily. ' II 
poverino 7 would certainly have betrayed you. 
Now, it is only to assume some of the signer's cos- 
tume and travel as brothers. The master of the 
felucca expects my cousin and his wife; not but 
he has a shrewd notion of the truth ; so I'd have 
you hold yourselves close and say little, and cut 
off your traces as soon as possible by disguising 
yourselves as I say." 

It was after sundown that they left the cavern, 
which had suddenly become a most precious place 
to poor Bianca. When Francesco took her hand 
to guide her across the rude plank (which con- 
nected the boulder with the ledge, and was then 
drawn back into the underwood by Sanga), he 
found clasped in it a bit of earth, a vestige of that 
beloved grave, caught up in the agony of parting. 
She hardly cared what fortune they might meet 
with, now that this great joy had died. Even the 
mightier love against which she leaned produced 
no warmth in her callous heart during the stun of 
bereavment. She heard her husband talking and 
Sanga talking, as one in a dream hears with half 


comprehension. She knew that her hand was 
clasped in Francesco's, drawn within his arm 
closely; and he felt how very chill and pulseless it 
was, how dead to everything but the dear little 
one whom it never more might touch. 

Sanga was talking of the state of the country. 
,An awful sameness of suffering and of cruelty was 
in his narratives. Devastation of house and land, 
and simple murder with the sword, were the gen- 
tlest of the miseries he could tell. 

"You see, signor, our new inquisitor, Panza, 
has got into his head that all sorts of evil practices 
were carried on in the religious meetings of you 
'novatori :' somebody told him the lie, I suppose, 
and he's determined to get it proved somehow. So 
he puts everybody on the rack, right and left, to try 
whether he can wring out a confession. It didn't 
do that he saw a man die before his eyes last week, 
actually torn to bits on the rack pulled asunder, 
as one may say. There's another precious instru- 
ment called a ' hell,' and he kept poor Verminello 
do you recollect him, signor ? he kept him on 
it for eight hours after he had promised to go to 
mass, and yet he couldn't make him say what he 
wanted. I suppose when he gave way in one 
point, and promised to attend mass and forswear 


his religion, poor wretch il poveraccio ! the in- 
quisitors thought it only wanted stronger pressure 
to make him do anything they chose. But they 
were mistaken." 

"He was a steadfast spirit, after all," observed 
Francesco. " 'Twere a pity he marred his con- 
stancy by the first lapse." 

" Well, signor, you have some right to speak, for 
you did not flinch from the rack in Locarno, as I 
have heard. But as to myself " and he shrugged 
his shoulders incredulously "I'd swear anything 
they chose to name after one turn of the screw. 
Stay : did you hear of Samson? No; how should 
you, who have been so shut up? He was hurled 
from a high tower the other day, and his bones all 
fractured on the pavement beneath. It didn't kill 
him. He was still breathing, crushed and mangled 
though he was, when his Highness the viceroy 
came by. i What carrion is this?' quoth his Ex- 
cellency. 'A heretic that will not die!' answered 
some attendant; whereupon his Highness kicked 
Samson's bleeding head, and ordered that the pigs 
should eat him!" 

The woman, clinging to her husband's arm, here 
clasped it closer with a sudden cry. Not alone 
from horror at the recital of the barbarous death 


of one whom she had known as a friend, but from 
a conviction of her own great blessing in the safety 
of that husband, and the guilt of repining at any 
will of God so long as he was left to her heart. 
"Pardon me, bene mio; I have seemed regardless 
of thee when the child was taken: in my impa- 
tience I have undervalued thee, my Francesco ! 
Thou mightest have suffered as they have, but for 
the good God's care/' He had to stop and soothe 
her. The revulsion of feeling was beneficial ; she 
saw how much worse they might have had to bear 
than the falling asleep of an infant. 

How those great agonies are borne I profess my- 
self unable to imagine. God be thanked that such 
do not cross our quiet English life-paths ! But no 
effort of realization could help us to know how 
Verminello lay eight hours, staunch to truth, on a 
torturing instrument so diabolical as to deserve the 
name of a "hellj" or how Samson endured to be 
devoured piecemeal by swine; or how Bernardin 
Conto, at about the same period, was covered with 
a coat of pitch and burned alive as a human torch 
in the market-place of Cosenza. For Conto had 
been going to an ordinary burning at the stake 
when his zealous executioner forced a crucifix into 
his hands; the martyr flung away the idolatrous 


symbol, and Panza the inquisitor invented for him 
this new torment, Elders and schoolmasters of 
the Vaudois had the dismal pre-eminence of being 
coated with resin ere consumed ; " in order/' writes 
Luigi. d'Appiano, " that, being burned slowly, they 
might suffer the more in correction of their im- 

Through the blasted land our travellers pro- 
ceeded, in gathering night, toward the shore. Afar 
on the sea the horizon line was broken by a dim 
gray peak, solid against the clearness of the west ; 
faint smoke hung over that volcanic isle of Strom- 
boli perpetually. When they reached a frequented 
district outside the woods and marshes which 
skirted the hills or rather a district that had once 
been frequented, where happy homesteads and cul- 
tured fields had once flourished Sanga walked on 
in front, and enjoined strict silence. At last they 
struck upon a public road. The robber paused. 

" 'Tis fortunate if the wind do not veer," he said, 
looking up to the winking stars, where a few clouds 
hung motionless across their faces. " It has already 
dropped very low. The signorina should hasten 
as much as possible ; we are a mile from the shore 

Rapidly as they sped along, she could not help 


observing that, at regular intervals on this high 
road, they passed certain posts sunk at the side, 
which appeared in the uncertain light to uphold 
some strange excrescences. (t What are- they, 
Francesco ?" she asked, yet shuddering without 
known reason at the mysterious objects. 

" Well, I did not think they'd do it," was the 
comment of Sanga, "though I heard it was 
threatened to set way-posts of Vaudois limbs for 
thirty-six miles through their country. I'd sooner 
the lady hadn't noticed it what, has she fainted ? 
And if the wind veers, that felucca is off, to a cer- 
tainity ! Che c' da fare what is to be done 
now ?" 




'HE felucca was running along in the gray 
morning light, leaving Stromboli far to the 
south-west under its canopy of smoke, and 
to the east the pretty Calabrian coast. Bianca lay 
on the little deck, and would not glance landward. 
"It is a cursed country," she said, "though it holds 
Cosmo's grave : I will look at God's pure sky and 
sea.' 7 

The sturdy rowers, bronzed, lithe sailors, stand- 
ing at their vocation, and pushing their oars for- 
ward to help the latteen sails which pointed like 
pinions far above their heads, easily divined the 
truth about, this hapless pair of refugees. But 
though each of the eightr wore round his neck a 
relic more or less sacred, from a, shaving of the toe- 
nail of Saint Peter to a thread of Saint Catherine 
of Siena's robe, they were no bigots, and felt not 
called upon to assist the Holy Office to more 
victims by informing. They only trusted that 
these " oltra-montani" would not bring them any 



ill-luck in the shape of bad weather; and the 
skipper kept a sharp lookout to windward. 

Nevertheless, and despite the heretic freight, 
they made Policastro without accident, and set 
their passengers ashore. The rest had somewhat 
recruited poor Bianca's strength toward the fatigue 
of land -journey ings. Here was effected the dis- 
guise of which Sanga had spoken, and which both 
now recognized to be the wisest plan for travelling. 
Here also Francesco learned, with dread, that 
orders had been despatched throughout Italy to all 
civic powers, to magistrates and sbirri, to bargemen 
and wagoners, to inn-keepers and toll-keepers, 
that they should arrest or cause to be arrested 
every passenger who could not produce a certificate 
of orthodoxy from his parish priests, with visas 
from other priests at every stage of his journey. 

Proceeding northward by land seemed hopeless 
in this condition of things. An idea which had 
already struck him appeared more feasible, which 
was to cross the country to the Adriatic coast, and 
there find some felucca from port to port till they 
should reach Venice. His own and Bianca's 
nearest friends were in Venice and Ferrara. 

It needs not to follow them step by step through 
their wearying pilgrimage. Danger and fear were 


never absent from their path by land or sea. The 
feeling of perfect personal security, common to us 
as the air we breathe, was wholly unknown to the 
Italian Protestant of that age. Every stranger 
might be, and probably was, an enemy. Noah's 
dove had no more resting-place in the weltering 
world of deluge than could the Lutheran have 
among the fluctuating princedoms and republics 
of the peninsula. When, after infinite toils and 
risks, our poor pair reached Venice, it was only to 
find new dangers. From the Tyrol to Cape Spar- 
tivento there could henceforth be no spot in Italy 
tolerant of the Reformed opinions, no spot with- 
out the glaring eye of the Holy Office bent on it 
fiercely, if perchance some man dared assert that 
first freedom of humanity the freedom of the 

Now there was a certain brother in the faith, 
Antonio Ricetto of Vicenza, formerly known to 
Francesco ; and in his house in Venice the young 
physician and his wife obtained shelter and breath- 
ing-time for a short space. Whither to turn for per- 
manent refuge they knew not as yet. The horizon 
was clouded everywhere. War desolated the Al- 
pine valleys of Piedmont, where they had kin of 
blood and of faith. Far distant England, under 


sagacious and strong-hearted Elizabeth, seemed 
the one earthly land of rest for Protestants. 

Altieri and his friend sat in the window of a 
mansion in the sea-streeted city at eventide. A 
sheen of sunset lay along the silent canal below, 
broken here and there by shadowed bars of bridges. 
Occasionally a gondola glided by, and the stillness 
was disturbed by the sharp warning cry of the 
solitary boatman as he neared a corner. The two 
had been speaking of news but that day arrived 
from Rome the news of further "acts of faith," 
and of the death of the Calabrian pastor, Ludo- 
vico Paschali. 

The record remains for us, written by his brother, 
who had offered him half his property if he would 
recant. "It was hideous to see him," writes this 
zealous Catholic, " with his bare head, his hand 
and arms lacerated by cords. On advancing to 
embrace him, I sank to the ground. ' My brother/ 
he exclaimed, ' if you are a Christian, why distress 
yourself thus ? Do you not know that a leaf can- 
not fall to the ground without the will of God ? 
Comfort yourself in Christ Jesus ; for the present 
troubles are not to be compared with the glory to 

come. 77 

And not many days before Francesco reached 


Venice, a scaffold was built in the court of the 
Castle of St. Angelo : and all around it and its 
ghastly stake and pile of fagots, curved an amphi- 
theatre of luxurious couches and richly adorned 
benches for the spectators of the tragedy. Chief 
figure among these was his Holiness Pope Pius the 
Fourth ; a jovial, pleasant, affable prince to all 
but heretics, "fond of witty conversation, good 
cheer and merriment/' yet presiding here, at the 
cruel execution of a blameless man ! Around him 
crowds of cardinals, inquisitors, monks of all orders 
and garbs; an excited populace filling every remain- 
ing space where guards are not. And then forth 
comes the martyr, the young man bleached and wrin- 
kled with captivity and tortures, who has been buried 
so deep beneath the Torre di Nona that his poor 
eyes scarce bear the daylight: with difficulty he 
drags himself along under a weight of chains ; and 
see ! the dull cords have cut his flesh to the bone, 
leaving red, raw wounds. How do the people gaze, 
and the guards, and the clergy, and the cardinals, 
even up to the sacred eyes of Pius himself, 
and seek for some symptom of fear in that frail 
form and worn face ! But the gentleness of en- 
durance and pardon is all they can read ; and he 
ascends the scaffold with feeble step, though no- 


wise reluctant. A short interval is allowed him to 
speak ; and he declares that for no crime has he 
come to die, but for confession of the pure faith of 
Jesus his Master; that the pope is not 'the vicar 
of God on earth, but most plainly Antichrist 
in everything the mortal enemy of the Lord. 

Ho! this fellow takes too much license. Pius 
moves uneasily in his gilded chair; the chief in- 
quisitor makes a secret signal to the executioner. 
But before the last act of the tragedy can be con- 
summated, Paschali in a loud voice proclaimed : 

" I summon you to the bar of God ! I summon 
you to give account of your cruelties and heresies 
and superstitions with which you have defiled the 
Church of Christ ! I shall stand in his presence 
before another hour. I shall bear witness against 
you, pope, and cardinals, and monks !" 

They could have gnashed their teeth with rage, 
those gloriously-arrayed dignitaries in purple and 
scarlet; and who shall say how many deathbeds 
were haunted by that apparition of the pale martyr 
in chains at the black stake, charging the heads of 
the Church with their misdeeds ? His ashes were 
thrown into the Tiber; and the cruel tidings trav- 
elled north to her who loved him best, the Gene- 
vese maiden, Camilla Guerina. 


" Father," said the noble boy of perhaps seven 
years who stood between the knees of Antonio 
Ricetto at the window where he talked with Al- 
tieri "father, I wish those wicked men were 
burned themselves !" And the child's dark eyes 
brimmed over with tears. " Father, will not God 
punish them ? I I wish I were a man, to have 
helped Paschali !" 

Ricetto smoothed the dark hair under his hand 
and pushed it from the ingenuous brow. " He is 
happier now than if thou hadst saved him, dear 
heart of mine. He is with the most blessed Christ 
yonder." The boy furtively dashed away his tears 
and smiled into his father's face : 

"Then it is good he died, mio padre?" 

" Yes, Picciolo, for that was his birth-day into 
the endless life ; and he glorified his God before 
men and angels." Francesco had been looking at 
the child, and thinking that his Cosmo might have 
been thus had God spared him. 

"Read, my friend," said Ricetto, "that letter 
of Paschali's to his people. Methinks I scarce 
could hear it too often. Now, little one, hearken 
to his own words about his departure." 

They were rather above the child's compre- 
hension, but gave him a general sort of idea that 


Paschali had been well content to die. " I feel ray 
joy increase every day," he wrote, " for I approach 
nearer to the hour in which I shall be offered as a 
sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ, my faithful 
Saviour ; yea, so inexpressible is my gladness that 
I seem to myself to be free from captivity, and am 
prepared to die, not only once, but many thousand 
times for Christ, if that were possible." Such 
were some of the expressions in that parting letter 
from the martyr to his old flock. 

Ricetto rose and brought away the boy in his 
arms. " I have left him with my wife and thine," 
quoth he to Francesco on return ; " for the child is 
sensitive, and might be dreaming, perchance, of 
these horrors. Evil days hath he fallen on, il 
poveretto ! Evil days for Lutherans' children." 

" The persecution appears to rage less intensely 
here than elsewhere in Italy," remarked Francesco. 

" Perchance so, in that we have as yet no lighted 
pyres in our piazzas," replied Ricetto. " But many 
a one is in close durance for the cause of Christ. 
There is Fra Baldo Lupetino, once provincial of 
the Franciscans, and an eminent preacher of God's 
word in both Italian and Sclavonic ; he lies in a 
dungeon these many years, and not all the interces- 
sion of the German princes can get him out. And 


Julio Guirlanda of the Trevisano, they threaten 
him constantly with death ; but the doge and 
senate will allow no burnings : they have invented 
another martyrdom." 


" Suitable to Venice drowning. The inquisi- 
tors object, because such death will not be at all so 
horrifying as the stake so impressive to all good 
Christians, as they term it. I wonder, indeed, 
that they have not long since made away with Fra 
Baldo; for his steadfastness does them grievous 
harm : he bears the most undaunted testimony to 
the blessed gospel." 

"And how hast thou kept thyself safe, good 

" Perchance through a want of faithfulness/ 7 was 
the answer. " Not that I have ever denied my 
Master in word or in deed ; but methinks all true 
men will suffer persecution in such times as 

Antonio Ricetto could not see over the lapse of 
five years coming, into a prison chamber where his 
future self stands, listening to an offer from the 
senate of life, liberty and property, provided he 
will conform to the worship of Rome; or after- 
ward, when his boy, now grown to twelve, falls at 


his feet and beseeches him with tears and caresses 
not to die not to leave him fatherless. Nor yet 
further, into a gloomy midnight, where a gondola 
has drawn up beside that prison and receives the 
victim, and shoots along canal after canal, and 
away from lighted houses to the lonely sea ; to 
where, beyond the Two Castles, another gondola 
waits, and a plank is laid between them, and the 
shackled prisoner, stones fastened to his feet, is 
placed upon it. What sayeth the prisoner? 
Prayers to God for those who ignorantly put him 
to death ; praises of the Saviour whose heaven he 
shall presently enter; and so the gondolas glide 
apart, and the martyr is cast into the deep, dark 

Thus did Antonio Ricetto depart this life and 
enter upon his eternal joy. The Fra Baldo 
Lupetino of whom he spoke lingered in prison for 
twenty years before like deliverance. Even his 
Holiness applied to the senate that he might be 
burned as a noted heresiarch, but the request was 
not acceded to, though renewed many times. The 
martyrology of Venice comprises noble names, but 
none of stead faster endurance than this monk. 

Reader, are you weary of the roll of heroes? 
Cruelties were committed upon God's servants in 


that age of Italy, too foul and fiendish for our ears 
to hear or our hearts to conceive. The one hun- 
dredth part of the malice and the barbarity of the 
Roman Inquisition cannot be told ; nor every hun- 
dredth name among those whom it recruited into 
heaven's " noble army of martyrs." 



OTHER and daughter were again clasped 
in each other's arms; Barbara di Montalto 
once more held her child to her heart and 


gazed into her eyes, and wept over her who had 
been given up for lost. In these days of rail and 
telegraph, when Moscow is nearer to London than 
was Naples to Rome during the sixteenth century, 
few partings or meetings of friends can be sucli 
as they were in those days of no correspondence. 
We receive letters from India and Australia as 
regularly as the month changes letters which 
bring dear ones close in spirit. But then, mother 
and daughter separated, it might be by only a 
couple of hundred miles, and no blank barrier of 
empty space could stay intercourse more eifectually 
than did that interval during disturbed times in 
Italy. Princes had couriers, commerce had pack- 
horses and galleys ; but for private requirements 
of friendship among the masses of men there was 
no post, no courier. 



They had a great deal to say each other then, 
these women. All the information that would 
have been distilled on paper in successive letters 
had they lived in our time, was condensed into one 
tide of talk. You may be sure that before and 
above all else was the little dead Cosmo spoken of, 
and the dark slight curl from his small head fin- 
gered and wept over and kissed lovingly. His 
winning ways and his smiles and his broken talk 
the mother had worlds to say of these to the other 
mother's sympathizing ears ; and her heart was 
relieved when she had poured it all forth. 

The physician of the ducal household seemed 
much as usual. His wife did not say, even to his 
daughter, how far he had gone in the matter of 
conformity, for he regularly went to mass now, and 
conducted himself, in all respects, as an orthodox 
Catholic. Yet he said that this was merely for the 
sake of peace; that his opinions were unchanged; 
in which case he certainly took great pains to hide 
his light under a bushel. No man could get on in 
the world, he averred, who did not swim with the 
tide ; he had not the temperament of a martyr, and 
his private beliefs were no matter to any one. 

But he had never been able to induce his wife to 
follow his example. She read her Bible at home. 


and visited a few obscure "novatori" in the lanes 
of the city, and held her faith pertinaciously. Di 
Montalto was perpetually afraid that he would get 
into trouble on her account ; and this bugbear made 
him unjust to her at times. Bianca heard not a 
word of it ; her mother was one of those self- 
denying, reticent women who do not add to the 
burdens of others by a recital of their own, but 
bear what God has sent them in silence and sub- 
mission. And their reward is, that the load be- 
comes lighter and smaller by patient endurance, 
while what we contemplate and talk about in- 

Bianca was inquiring after her old friends. Few 
of the Reformed were left; they had emigrated or 
quietly settled into the courtly faith. 

u And since that dear lady the duchess left, 
things look darker than ever for us/ 7 said the 
Signora Barbara. " While she was here we felt 
that some protection could be had." 

"Tell me about it, mother. Why did the 
duchess leave her realm ?" 

" As I believe, the cause was her faith," replied 
the physician's wife. " She ' revealed the state of 
her heart 7 more openly than ever during Duke 
Ercole's lifetime, and declared herself, if not abso- 


lately in words, yet in every deed, to be a Lu- 

" But I thought that her son loved her greatly," 
said Bianca. 

" My daughter, all considerations of affection 
yield to policy with princes, so far as I have ever 
seen," said the other ladyi " The Duke Alfonso 
went to Rome last May to receive investiture of his 
fiefs from the Holy See ; and it is said that the 
pope complained to him of the scandal which his 
mother's heresies were bringing on the house of 
Este. So, when the prince came home, he en- 
treated of her to act as in his father's lifetime and 
attend the public worship of the Church. But 
neither his prayers nor the persuasions of various 
learned men, who thought to overcome her resolu- 
tion by argument, could move her from her 
faith. At last the duke was driven to declare that 
she must either conduct herself as a Catholic or 
leave Ferrara. Her husband had left her the 
palace of Belriguardo and half its lands by his will 
for so long as she remained a good Catholic ; of 
course his bequest was void now. And she chose 
to depart, even for ever, rather than act over again 
the old falsehood, which had once wrought such 
disgrace in the Church of God." 


" She was always a most noble heart," observed 
Bianca. " And are not the people grieved at her 
absence? Her liberality was wondrous great." 

" Yes, they are sorry for her, because she never 
was weary of aiding the necessitous by plenteous 
alms. It was a sad day when she departed from 
the city, where for more than thirty years she had 
been everybody's friend. We shall see her in 
heaven, Bianca mia." 

"Ah, mother, it never was so real to me till my 
little flower died !" 

With the Duchess Renee went out the gospel- 
light of Italy. No more patronage in high places 
for the word of God, but the utterest persecution 
for all who dared read or listen to it. Pius the 
Fourth could look all over the land with his 
shrewd, worldly eyes and behold naught but clouds 
of thick darkness rolling on every side, obscuring 
the whole spiritual firmament, as he would fain 
have it obscured; while the wax tapers of Rome 
and the lurid pyres of martyrs alone lit the evil 

A few confessors of God's truth still remained, 
such as Barbara di Mont-alto, who would not bow 
the knee to Baal. Perhaps there were many more 
than we suspect; for had not the Lord seven 



thousand worshippers in idolatrous Israel when 
Elijah the Tishbite believed himself the only one? 
But whatever was their number, in the night that 
overspread Italy henceforth they kept themselves 
close and quiet, and were thankful to be permitted 
to die peaceably in their beds. 

Old Babylon was scarce a worse desolation than 
the once fertile and flourishing Vaudois valleys of 
Calabria, whose roads were dotted with quartered 
heretics, blackening under sun and moon. The 
policy inaugurated by Paul the Fourth had verily 
prospered and prevailed. 

# # * # * 

One bright evening in the summer of 1561, two 
persons were approaching the little town of La 
Torre, under the long shadow of the Castelluzzo. 
Before them lay the valley of Luserna, sentinelled 
by that wondrous obelisk whose top often catches 
clouds as they fleet by; and massive mountains, 
snow-crowned, yet robed in coats of many colours 
where they rested on the earth, encompassed it. A 
tinkle of bells was in the air, yet not the Ave 
Maria, which bowed every superstitious head in 
Italy just then, but simply the ringing of the cattle 
as they were driven home for the night from pas- 


"At last," sighed Bianca, "this land looks like 

"Little heart/' said her husband, "how well is 
it that not on outward things alone do we depend 
for peace! How well that God has given us of 
his celestial calm, which passeth all understand- 

"Thou art right, my friend," she answered, 
gently and with a falling tear; "God will pardon 
me for that murmur." 

Dearly had the Vaudois purchased whatever 
peace reigned in their valleys just now. Fifteen 
months of sore strife, many defeats and obstinate 
defences, had terminated in the treaty of Cavor, 
signed by Philip of Savoy, and ratifying to them 
a certain liberty of conscience. For they had re- 
pulsed the savage Count de la Trinit in his attack 
on Pra del Torre; and he declared that in revenge 
he would ravage the whole country, destroying all 
the corn in the blade and the young vines ; and 
while yet a serious illness held him back from ful- 
filment of his threat, the mountaineers sought and 
obtained the mediation of Philip of Savoy, who 
procured them a general pardon from their prince, 
Emanuel Philibert, and a promise of the impartial 
administration of justice in future. All fugitives 


were to be permitted to return and enjoy their re- 
ligion without molestation. 

Common rights enough, such as we have every 
day, blessed be God ! without fighting for them ; 
but an inestimable boon to the Cottian Vaudois. 
And likewise intolerable to the head of the Romish 
Church: Pius the Fourth complained bitterly of 
this " pernicious example of tolerance" this single 
gleam of illumination on the Western Alps, the 
extremest edge of his dark empire. 

But no treaty of peace, no princely promises 
could give again the noble hearts sacrificed, the 
happy homes desolated in the strife. When Fran- 
cesco Altieri and his wife came to settle in the 
valleys, vestiges of the late wars were every where 
apparent. Ruined chalets clung to the mountain 
sides ; the mills had been destroyed. Only gradu- 
ally did the old people come back who had sought 
refuge in dens of the Upper Alps, and found their 
villages for the most part heaps of ruin ; and the 
neighbours where were they? Slain, or galley- 
slaves, or beggars. 

Yet, " bating no jot of heart or hope," the often- 
crushed Yaudois set about a reconstitution of their 
homes and society. Some small contribution of 
members came from the far-off Calabrian colonies, 


stripped of everything, having passed through un- 
numbered dangers and disguises. An equality of 
poverty was theirs. For the first year there was 
scarce enough to eat. But had they not freedom 
to worship God ? And this compensated for all 

Many years afterward, in a white chalet upon a 
mountain spur striking the Yal d'Angrogna, lived 
the pastor and physician of the place : no native- 
born Vaudois, people said, and speaking their 
patois in a strongly Italian fashion, but much 
beloved and worthy of love. A grave man, as 
one who has seen and suffered above the common 
allotment, but the more qualified he to comfort 
and to strengthen others. The education of en- 
durance had been his, by which God fits men for 
usefulness to their fellows. 

And to Bianca was given a noonday of peace 
after a morning of cloud and storm. Although 
other children grew up around her knees, born to 
a fairer prospect of mortal life than her little Cala- 
brian Cosmo, perhaps none was loved so intensely 
as that early lost one. His baby fingers had 
loosened her grasp of all earthly joys. 

And whenever M. le Pasteur Altieri and his 
wife looked from their quiet mountain home east- 


ward upon their own loved land of Italy, " behold 
trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish ;" yea, it 
Was driving daily into deeper darkness. Yet never 
have the Vaudois hill-tops lost the gleam of the 
glorious sun : and even now, three hundred years 
since the light of Truth was eclipsed in Italy, from 
the self-same Cottian Alps comes a kindling ray, 
already caught upon the palaces of Turin and the 
workshops of Florence, and perhaps destined to be 
reflected on the very Tiber itself, rolling beside the 
wreck of Inquisition prisons during decades to 


The following extract from M'Crie's History of 
the Reformation in Italy* is inserted in order to 
show how closely the actual facts have been ad- 
hered to in the foregoing tale. It narrates the in- 
cidents described in the earlier chapters : 

" Perceiving that they could look for no favour from the 
deputies, who sternly refused them permission to remain 
till the rigour of winter was over, the Protestants made 
preparations for their departure, and sent Taddeo a Dunis 
before them to request an asylum at Zurich from the mag- 
istrates of that city. But they had still to suffer greater 
* Published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication. 


trials. Riverda, the Papal nuncio, following up his success 
iu Switzerland, appeared at Locarno. Having obtained an 
audience of the deputies, and thanked them in the pope's 
name for the care they had testified for the Catholic faith, 
he requested, first, that they should require the Grison 
League to deliver up the fugitive Beccaria, that he might 
be punished for the daring crime which he had committed 
in corrupting the faith of his countrymen ; and, secondly, 
that they would not permit the Locarnese emigrants to 
carry along with them their property and children ; but 
that the former should be forfeited, and the latter retained 
and brought up in the faith of the Church of Rome. The 
deputies readily acceded to the first of these requests, but 
excused themselves from complying with the second, with 
which their instructions would not allow them to interfere. 
At the same time, they begged the nuncio to grant power 
to the priests of Locarno to receive such of the Protestants 
as might be induced to return into the bosom of the 
Church. This Riverda not only granted, but also offered 
his services, along with those of two Dominican doctors of 
theology, whom he had brought along with him for con- 
vincing the deluded heretics. But though he harassed the 
Protestants, by obliging them to listen to harangues de- 
livered by the monks, and to wait on conferences with 
himself, he did not succeed in making a single convert. 

" Having heard of three ladies of great respectibility, 
Catarina Rosalina, Lucia di Orello and Barbara di Montalto, 
who were zealous Protestants, the nuncio felt a strong incli- 
nation to hold a controversy with them ; but they parried 
his attacks with so much dexterity, and exposed the idola- 


try and abuses of the Romish Church with such boldness 
and severity as at once to mortify and irritate his Emi- 
nence. Barbara di Montalto, the wife of the first physician 
of the place, having incurred his greatest resentment, he 
prevailed on the deputies to issue an order to apprehend 
her for blasphemies which she had uttered against the sac- 
rifice of the mass. Her husband's house, which had been 
constructed as a place of defence during the violent feuds 
between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, was built on the 
Lago Maggiore, and had a concealed door, which it required 
the strength of six men to move, opening upon the water, 
where a boat was kept in waiting to carry off the inmates 
upon any sudden alarm. This door he had caused his ser- 
vants to open at night, in consequence of an alarming 
dream, which led him to apprehend danger, not to his wife 
indeed, but to himself. Early next morning the officers of 
justice entered the house, and bursting into the apartment 
where the lady was in the act of dressing herself, presented 
a warrant from the deputies to convey her to prison. Ris- 
ing up with great presence of mind, she begged them, with 
an air of feminine delicacy, to permit her to retire to an 
adjoining apartment, for the purpose of putting on some 
article of apparel. This being granted, she descended the 
stairs, and leaping into the boat, was rowed off in safety, 
before the eyes of her enemies, who were assembled in the 
court-room to receive her. Provoked at this disappoint- 
ment, the nuncio and deputies wreaked their vengeance 
upon the husband of the lady, whom they stripped of his 
property. Not satisfied with this, they amerced in a large 
sum two members of the Reformed Church who had re- 


fused to have their children baptized after the popish 

" But the severest punishment fell on a poor tradesman, 
named Nicolas, who belonged to the Reformed Church. 
He had been informed against, some time before, for using, 
in a conversation with some of his neighbours, certain ex- 
pressions derogatory to the Virgin Mary, who had a cele- 
brated chapel in the vicinity, called Madonna del Sasso ; 
and the prefect Reuchlin, with the view of silencing the 
clamours of the priests, had punished his imprudence by 
condemning him to an imprisonment of sixteen weeks. 
This poor man was now brought a second time to trial for 
that offence, and after being put to the torture, had sen- 
tence of death passed upon him, which was unrelentingly 
executed by order of the deputies, notwithstanding the in- 
tercession of the Roman Catholic citizens in his behalf. 

" The Protestants had fixed on the 3d of March, 1555, for 
setting out on their journey ; and so bitter had their life 
been for some time that, attached as they were to their na- 
tive place, they looked forward to the day of their depart- 
ure with joy. But before it arrived they received intelli- 
gence which damped their spirits. The government of 
Milan, yielding to the instigations of the priesthood, pub- 
lished an edict, commanding all their subjects not to enter- 
tain the exiles from Locarno on their journey, nor allow 
them to remain above three days in the Milanese territory, 
under the pain of death ; and imposing a fine on those who 
should afford them any assistance, or enter into conversa- 
tion with them, especially on any matter connected with 
religion. Being thus precluded from taking the road which 


led to the easiest passage across the Alps, they set out early 
on the morning of the day fixed, and after sailing to the 
northern point of the Lago Maggoire, passed the Helvetian 
bailiages, by the way of Bellinzone. and before night came 
on, reached Rogoreto, a town subject to the Grison League. 
Here the Alps, covered with snow and ice, presented a bar- 
rier which it was vain attempting to pass, and obliged them 
to take up their winter quarters amidst the inconveniences 
necessarily attending the residence of such a number of 
persons among strangers. After two months, the thaw 
having opened a passage for them, they proceeded to the 
Orisons, where they were welcomed by their brethren of the 
same faith. Being offered a permanent residence, with ad- 
mission to the privileges of citizenship, nearly the half of 
their number took up their abode in that country ; the re- 
mainder, amounting to a hundred and fourteen persons, 
went forward to Zurich, the inhabitants of which came out 
to meet them at their approach, and by the kind and fra- 
ternal reception which they gave them consoled and re- 
vived the hearts of the sad and weary exiles." 




From dawn to dark 
in Italy.